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Iraqi army forces had their first major clash with Shi’ite militias in the southern city of Diwaniyah earlier this week. The fighting was seen as a sign of the increasing strength of anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia. A panel talks about what’s behind the latest spasm of violence.


  • Juan Cole Professor of modern Middle East history at the University of Michigan; his blog is "Informed Comment"
  • Laith Kubba Director of the Middle East program at the National Endowment for Democracy and former spokesman for the Iraqi interim government of Ibrahim al Jafari
  • Ellen Knickmeyer Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post


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