Iraq on the Edge?

IRAQ ON THE EDGE?….Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor says that the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra is very bad news:

As citizens deserted the streets of Baghdad in the wake of the attack, many said they feared this could be a seminal moment in Iraq’s low-intensity civil war.

“The war could really be on now,” says Abu Hassan, a Shiite street peddler who declined to give his full name. “This is something greater and more symbolic than attacks on people. This is a strike at who we are.”

….”This could be a tipping point,” says Juan Cole, a historian of Shiite Islam at the University of Michigan. “At some point, the Shiite street is going to be so fed up that they’re not going to listen any more to calls for restraint.”

The BBC rounds up reaction in the rest of the country:

  • In Baghdad, a Sunni mosque in Baladiya district is raked with gunfire, while black-clad militiamen of the Shia Mehdi Army demonstrate in Sadr City; six Sunnis die in violence

  • In Basra, gunmen attack Sunni mosques and exchange fire with guards at an office of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party

  • Businesses shut down in Najaf and about 1,000 march through the streets, waving flags and shouting slogans

  • Markets, shops and stalls close in Diwaniya, AP says. A Mehdi Army militiaman is killed in clashes after gunmen from the faction attack Sunni houses, Reuters news agency reports

  • About 3,000 people demonstrate in the Shia city of Kut, chanting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans and burning US and Israeli flags, AP says.

Is this the incident that will finally turn Iraq into the West Bank writ large? If Iran succeeds in convincing people that American and Israeli forces are to blame for the bombing, it might be.