Perhaps the best informed commentator on the Shiite community in Iraq, Juan Cole asks whether the actions of the Coalition Administration which led directly to the current bloody fighting between Coalition forces and (hitherto relatively quiescent) Shiite militias was Incompetence or Double-Dealing . As he says
The Coalition decision to provoke a fight with Muqtada al-Sadr’s movement only three months before the Coalition Provisional Authority goes out of business has to be seen as a form of gross incompetence in governance. How did the CPA get to the point where it has turned even Iraqi Shiites, who were initially grateful for the removal of Saddam Hussein, against the United States? Where it risks fighting dual Sunni Arab and Shiite insurgencies simultaneously, at a time when US troops are rotating on a massive scale and hoping to downsize their forces in country? At a time when the Spanish, Thai and other contingents are already committed to leaving, and the UN is reluctant to get involved?
As I read Cole, the answer is neither pure incompetence nor double-dealing for its own sake but the fact that the US Administration contains so many competing agendas that its policies are invariably incoherent.
fn1. By closing their newspaper, arresting a leading supporter of Sadr and threatening Sadr himself.