From American Progress:
The recent attack on the Askariya shrine exposed the growing fissures among different factions in Iraq. Since the attack yesterday on one of the holiest Shiite sites in Iraq, “90 Sunni mosques have been attacked and at least 50 people, including three Sunni clerics, have been killed. In a rare move, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most respected cleric, called for public protests and hinted that religious militias may be given a bigger role if government forces are unable to provide security, "an ominous sign of the Shiite reaction ahead." And Sunnis are preparing for more violence by stocking up on food and staying at home.
The political turmoil on the ground has created new powerbrokers in Iraq. Iran is turning out to be the greatest beneficiary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. U.S. opposition to both Iran and Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has had the effect of giving them more power within Iraq. Sadr has visited Iran (promising to stand with them if the U.S. attacks them), Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Syria – increasing his power within the region. And as Sadr gains power, people the United States back, like Ahmed Chalabi, have been rejected by the Iraqi people.
President Bush still has not laid out a clear plan for progress in Iraq. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt - a key strategist in the U.S. central command covering the Middle East – recently admitted that the presence of American troops is a "contributory factor" to the instability in Iraq. President Bush clearly has no plan for dealing with the ethnic and sectarian militias in Iraq, which now number more than 120,000 and outnumber the insurgents." 57 percent of the American public now disapprove of the way Bush is handling the Iraq war and are looking for an alternative, yet the President has yet to show that he has one other than “stay the course.” American Progress has some answers.