In The New Republic, Peter Maass adds to the growing perception that the Shiites did:
Although Iraqi police and American troops had begun foot patrols in other parts of Baghdad, they were nowhere to be seen in Saddam/Sadr/Revolution City. That’s true throughout Shia population centers in Iraq. In Karbala, which contains the holiest Shia shrines, and Najaf, home to the main Shia seminary, the imams are in control. The gunmen are theirs, the hospitals are theirs, the banks are theirs, the streets are theirs. They have filled a vacuum, and they have lost no time in letting their long-repressed followers know that there is no reason to thank the American invaders and that the time has come to build an Islamic republic. [. . .] In the coming months, we’ll probably find out if secular Shia can stand up to the fundamentalists. But, for now, the fundamentalists are in charge. . . .
From the perspective of Iraqi secularists, the only thing worse than Shia clerics taking power is a struggle for power among them. The other day, I had lunch at a Baghdad restaurant with a prosperous Shia businessman, and, when I asked, over kebabs, hummus, and mint salad, what most worried him, he replied with two words: civil war. . . .
The businessman used the word “fanatics” to describe the fundamentalist imams. But, right now, there is no one he trusts. The U.S. government, or at least the Pentagon, appears to want the political vacuum filled by Ahmed Chalabi, the opposition leader who [. . .] appears to have little support here because many Iraqis see him as an interloper in the pocket of the U.S. government. When I asked what he thought of Chalabi, the businessman just laughed.