Iraq says 72 gunmen arrested after Kerbala chaos.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi security forces have arrested 72 gunmen following clashes in the city of Kerbala this week that forced hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to flee a religious festival, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
Seventy-two gunmen: one for each virgin!
Or, would that at some point (when these guys go on to Allah) be seventy-two squared?
I'm not going to make the obvious jokes....
A ministry statement said a number of weapons had also been confiscated during a search of homes across the southern city.
"The city of Kerbala is now witnessing stability and calmness," said the statement.
The gunbattles appeared to pit Iraq's two biggest Shi'ite groups against each other -- followers of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army, and the rival Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), whose armed wing controls police in much of the south.
So, let me see if I understand this: these are two rival Shi'ite militias doing this.
Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who visited Kerbala on Wednesday, blamed "outlawed armed criminal gangs from the remnants of the buried Saddam regime" for the violence.
Sure. Blame the dead guy.
Up to 52 people were killed in day-long fighting around two revered Shi'ite shrines.
These are two rival Shi'ite militias doing this! If they are going to fight each other at their own "revered Shi'ite shrines", then why don't we let them fight?
I suspect some Americans feel a sense of responsibility for Iraq now, thinking that we broke the system with our invasion, and, as they say in the markets, if you break, you buy it.
Well, I don't think we broke it.
I suspect that it was broke already, and Saddam Hussein (that dead guy mentioned above) was just really good at wall-papering over the problems.
In the wake of the chaos, Sadr suspended all armed activity by his Mehdi Army to remove rogue elements from the militia, several aides said on Wednesday.
But violence by unidentified gunmen against SIIC offices continued. An army source said gunmen attacked a SIIC building overnight in the town of Haideriya, south of Kerbala.
That followed attacks against several SIIC buildings in Iraq on Tuesday night.
Analysts have said the test of Sadr's six-month suspension order would be whether his fighters obeyed because it was no longer clear how much authority he exercised over the militia.
If their leaders no longer control the militias, then it's chaos, and I repeat:
We didn't break it! It was broke already.