THE SOUTH….Speaking of civil war in the south of Iraq — and we were just speaking of it, weren’t we? — here’s the latest:

Clashes between rival Shiite Muslim militias in the holy city of Karbala today killed at least 50 people, torched three hotels and prompted Iraqi authorities to order the evacuation of more than 1 million pilgrims from the shrine where they had gathered.

More than 150 people were injured in the helter-skelter panic that followed random gunfire by militants in the Mahdi Army loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr and those of the Badr Organization, the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

….The death toll threatened to climb, with witnesses reporting dozens of bodies in the streets surrounding the Imam Hussein shrine and amid the smoldering rubble of the three buildings set on fire during the rampage.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure glad we’re sticking it out in Iraq in order to referee a fight between the country’s two leading Shiite political blocs. Pretty shrewd use of American power projection, isn’t it?

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