By PATRICK COCKBURN
"The old war was primarily between the Sunni community -- which contested the American occupation -- and an Iraqi government dominated by the Shia in alliance with the Kurds. That conflict has not ended. But the most important battles likely to be waged in Iraq this year will be within the Shia community. They pit the US-backed Iraqi government against the supporters of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who represents the impoverished Shia masses of Iraq. ‘The Shia are the majority in Iraq and the Sadrists are a majority of this majority,’ a former Shia minister told me. ‘They make up 30 to 40 per cent of the total Iraqi population.’ The population of Iraq is 27 million: on this ex-minister’s calculation, up to ten million of them support Muqtada......"