Iraq's Religious Militias: Friend or Foe?

Religious militias in Iraq are supposed to be helping keep the peace now that Saddam Hussein's regime has fallen.

But the same militias that are enforcing the law are also stirring up anger and violence against the coalition and rival militias in Najaf (search) and Karbala (search).

Critics of the religious militias include Grand Ayatollah Ali Hussein al-Sistani (search), the leader of Iraq's 15 million Shiites, who says Iraqi national forces should be responsible for security and stability instead.

Supporters deny that militias are intimidating people into obeying their rules, saying they're just groups of peaceful volunteers who patrol the streets.

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