Al-Jazeera English has a good report on the current fighting in Basra, which offers a more nuanced analysis of events than is provided by most coverage. The report makes clear that underlying the engagement is a struggle for influence in the oil-rich south between the two main Shia factions in Iraq: the Sadrists led by Muqtada al-Sadr, whose armed wing – the Jaish al Mahdi (Mahdi Army) – is the object of the security operation; and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), whose armed wing – the Badr Organisation – dominates the security forces.
h/t: Danger Room
The Council on Foreign Relations has a Q&A with Vali R. Nasr – CFR’s Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies – which provides an excellent introduction to the complex dynamics that govern the inter-relationships between the Sadrists, the ISCI, the US and Iran.
The Basra incidents have generated a wealth of comment. Small Wars Journal has a collection of links here.
According to a BBC report, British ground forces have intervened for the first time in the Basra hostilities. In what appears to be an isolated incident, British forces launched artillery shells at a mortar position in the al-Klalaf area of northern Basra, which had been firing on Iraqi troops.