Southern Shiite tribal leaders have come out against the local Shiite militias. They are complaining of a reign of fear pervading the South, where only Islamic music is allowed , Western haircuts are banned and women are increasingly forced to wear strict Islamic dress code. The influence of the most extreme elements of Iran is visible everywhere. In effect the US has been too overstretched and the British too small and effective to do anything about these developments.
Out of the pages of the mainstream press, Shiite Southern Iraq has been plagued by on going violence between rival Shiite militias, most notably between the Mehdi Army and the Badra Brigades of the SIIC (Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council). The SCIIC controls much of the police and the Mehdi army has fought fierce battles with them. Behind this are two factors ; one the desire to control the South's rich oil reserves and two, to impose an Iranian fundamentalist regime in the South.
Both the Medi Army and SIIC are fundamentalist and in the regions which they control, which is most of the south, a strict form of fundamentalism is being imposed and recently they held talks on reconciliation. This is provoking local tribal chiefs to threaten to take up arms against the militias, in what is a bizarre reflection of the situation in areas of Sunni domination where tribes are fighting Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist Sunni groups. Any such move could result in a bloodbath and contribute to the anarchy throughout the country.