Wave of Assassinations in Basra
Dozens of prominent Iraqis have recently been assassinated in Basra, according to az-Zaman. The paper says that a few of these may be reprisal killings of former Baath officials. But many of those being mown down are just physicians or technocrats with no obvious Baathist past. Other assassinations may be the results of feuds among clans. Az-Zaman implies, however, that the wave of murders has some sinister pattern to it, which has not yet been discerned. Possibilities, it says include the emergence of mobster gangs involved in the city’s extensive smuggling trade, who are fighting over turf. Another possibility is that existing political parties are jockeying for position behind the scenes, employing violence in an attempt to deprive rivals of wealthy contributors and capable candidates.