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The coming of Shia Iraq

After 500 years of Sunni rule, Iraq's election will hand power to the Shia majority. This terrifies Sunnis, and gives Shia factions a common goal — masterminded by none other than Ahmed Chalabi

By Bartle Bull   November 2004

The Al-Askari Mosque is one of the most important Shiah mosques in the world. It was seriously damaged in attacks by Sunni extremists in 2006 and 2007

The hundred-mile drive from Baghdad to Najaf usually takes about three hours. It is hot country with low dusty towns and villages built of mud brick. About halfway along the road there is a turn to the right marked by an arch in the form of a pair of swords meeting at the tips. They are double-tipped swords, curved like those of the Imam Ali, whose defeat in war in 657 was the…

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