Juan Cole and Markos Moulitsas Discuss the Middle East.
MR. MARKOS MOULITSAS: So now we look at the shifting alliances and, and conflicts in Iraq, and it’s – you almost need a who’s-who book to figure out who is with who and who is against who and it probably changes weekly and monthly. Can you give us an overlay if that’s possible, a fairly brief overlay of what the main players are and where they stand?
DR. JUAN COLE: Well we now have a situation in Iraq where I think political parties are fairly important. And of course the personalities that lead them are as well. And so there are a finite number of the political personalities that one could speak about, to know the lay of the land. And the parties also have some class and regional bases, so one can differentiate amongst them.
If you start with the, the Shiites in the south. You have the movement headed by Muqtada al-Sadr, which is a ghetto movement. It’s a movement of poor young people mainly in desperate poverty in urban areas. I once compared Muqtada Sadr to Tupac Shakur, with his sermons being a kind of rap. And the gangs element also being rather important. And that’s what, when we talk about the Mahdi Army or the Shiite militia, Muqtada Sadr, you’re just talking about urban youth gangs with guns. That’s all it is. It’s nothing different from Crypts and Bloods.
MR. MARKOS MOULITSAS: Is it really generational? I mean it’s very young?
DR. JUAN COLE: It’s very young.