By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail
"BAQUBA, Apr 7 (IPS) - Battles between rival Shia groups have spread from Basra in the south to Baquba in the north.
Clashes between the Mehdi Army of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organisation militia of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) have been reported in the predominantly Shia district of Hwaider in Baquba, the capital city of Diyala province located 40 km northeast of Baghdad......
Many in Baquba believe the root of the conflict is control of money and power in the province ahead of elections slated for October. They say this was behind the recent attempt of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take control of Basra, an attempt that failed miserably.
"All the fighting is for money," Haider Abu Ali, a resident of Baquba told IPS. "These councils are money factories. Millions of dollars can be stolen through them, and this is why Iraq has turned from bad to worse."
A resident of Hwaider spoke with IPS on condition of anonymity. "A week ago, for the first time, written messages were dropped at night in the predominantly Shia districts and towns like Hwaider, Khirnabat and Abara," he said. "These messages were a threat to members of the Badr Organisation, warning them they would be killed if they kept targeting the Mehdi. The messages were signed by the Mehdi Army."
It is widely known that Badr Organisation members comprise a large portion of the government security forces......"