Oh yeah, Basra's out of control
Iraqi policeman and British soldier in Basra
Iraq imposes emergency in Basra
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has declared a month-long state of emergency in Basra, which has been plagued by sectarian clashes, anarchy and factional rivalry.
Visiting the city, Mr Maliki said he would use an "iron fist" to crush those who threaten security.
The prime minister has accused criminal gangs of holding the city's oil exports and other trade to ransom.
More than 100 people have died in the last month in Basra - until recently seen as one of Iraq's safer cities.
Relations between Basra's garrison of 8,000-odd British troops and the city's dominant Shias used to be cordial but have deteriorated rapidly in the past few months.
Nine British soldiers were killed in May alone.
Many Sunni mosques have also been closed amid rising sectarian divisions, and there are growing tensions among different Shia groups vying for political power and a share of the area's vast oil wealth, the BBC's Ian Pannell says.
A Shia faction has also threatened to sabotage oil exports through Basra to exert leverage over the Iraqi government.
But, but Sadr is hemmed in, right?
posted by Steve @ 11:26:00 PM