5000 Sadrists March in Baghdad
The Financial Times reported that the demonstrations in Baghdad on Tuesday were smaller than the approximately 100,000 who came out on Monday, and that they were also poorer. That is; they seem to have been mainly followers of Muqtada al Sadr. They not only marched in favor of free and open elections, but also against plans put forward by the Kurds for a very loose federalism and a consolidated Kurdish ethnic province. Crowds also came out in Karbala; Najaf, qnd Basra. The Australian press is reporting that the British have been convinced of the case for open elections, and that the United States is close to accepting it, as well.
The Sadrists also called for the execution of Saddam Hussein and complained about the Pentagon classifying him as a prisoner of war, according to Anthony Shadid of the Washinton Post.
I have long argued that were the Iraqis to mount really large urban demonstrations, it would be trump card for the occupying authorities. Either you let them alone, in which case they occupy that political space; or you shoot unarmed demonstrators, which would just cause more trouble.
It is alarming that Muqtada is using the demonstrations to confront the Kurds. Once crowd mobilization gets going, it can be put to lots of purposes. Can Sistani remain in control of the phenomenon he has unleashed?