You start reading about Iraq, and suddenly there’s a massive catastrophe sitting in front of you. The question is whether the destruction of the Askariya mosque is going to be catastrophic (Juan Cole says apocalyptic) or just very, very bad.

Naturally enough, people are calling for extra security at mosques. But the attack was carried out by men

in police uniforms

. Having police outside mosques isn’t going to reassure Shiites, when they suspect those ‘police’ could be about to blow the thing up.

If the police aren’t trusted enough to protect the mosques, then (yet again) the sectarian or party-based militias will step in. Al-Sadr is already on his way back to Iraq (he’d been touring the Middle East), and no doubt he’ll be taking the lead in this.

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