At least 40 bodies have been found recently in Iraq’s southern oil port of Basra, with the pull-out of British troops leaving only chaos and women increasingly targets of religious fundamentalists. “Some women along with their children have been killed,” Basra police commander Abd Al Jalil Khalef told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat. “A woman with two children, oe who was six and the other was 11 years old, were killed.” He added that families usually refrain from filing complaints out of fear of retribution, indicating that many killings never get reported. Warnings have appeared written in red on the walls of Basra streets: “We are warning women not to wear makeup and not to be uncovered. Whoever violates this will be punished. As god as my witness, I have informed you.”
The Fadhila, Sadr and Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) parties have been waging an often violent power struggle for control of Basra since the British withdrawal—despite all sharing a Shi’ite fundamentalist ideology. ISCI itself is part of the ruling coalition in Baghdad, and its leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim was recently met with President Bush in the Oval Office. (UPI, Dec. 7)
See our last posts on Iraq, the war on women and the Shi’ite power struggle.