Factions fighting for the control of the oil rich south of Iraq rape and murder daily. Not only do they do this they make their own laws, laws so ridiculous that store owners are threatened for allowing mannequins to show a shoulder.

How is this a ‘Mission Accomplished’? How can this be a winnable war? How can a women be killed for doing nothing but wearing a pair of jeans – people condemned for listening to ‘western’ music.

Women bore the brunt of the militias’ extremist ideologies. The militants spray-painted threats on walls across Basra, warning women to wear headscarves and not to wear make-up. Women were sometimes executed for the vague charge of doing something “un-Islamic.”

Could we call this even civil war – or is it a matter that the Iraqi nation has fallen under the control of gangs of thugs calling themselves fighters for freedom? Has the barbarism taken such a foothold that it will be almost impossible to bring back some semblance of civilisation?

Inside her rundown home, Sabriya’s watery eyes peer out from under her robe. She points to the first photo of one of her sons on the wall.

“This one was killed because he was drinking,” she says.

She draws her finger across her neck and gestures at the next photo.

“This one was slaughtered for his car.”

“This one the same,” she adds, looking at the third.

Her three sons, her daughter and her sister were all killed by the hard-line militia. Her sister was slaughtered because she was a single woman living alone, Sabriya says.

“They came in at night and put a pillow on her face and shot her in the head,” she says.

The main question is – when will Iraqis take their country back from these thugs, do they need the push that will happen if the democrats get into power in the White House and begin to leave – or will the whole country fall into a real civil war that no one knows the outcome.

Read more by Will Rhodes at his blog The Will Rhodes Portmanteau

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