Perhaps unintentionally, the front page of the Washington Post this morning provides a poignant portrait of the reality of the situation in Iraq. Its main above-the-fold headline: "Al-Qaeda In Iraq Reported Crippled." Right below: "Reporter for Post Is Fatally Shot In Baghdad." Not that we should have needed such a tragic reminder that military victory over the terrorists won't, on its own, produce stability in Iraq.
The story about the slain Post reporter, a 32-year-old Iraqi named Salih Saif Aldin who had braved death threats and beatings to report from the most dangerous neighborhoods in Baghdad, contains this glimpse at the city's sectarian conflict:
The area Saif Aldin was visiting is dominated by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Some residents at the scene said they feared that soldiers from the Iraqi army, believed to be infiltrated by the militia, were responsible for his death.
"They killed him," one man whispered, pointing at members of the Iraqi army brigade on the street.
Iraqi police officers said they believed Saif Aldin was killed by Sunni men belonging to the nascent organization known as the Awakening Council, a tribal organization aligned with the U.S. military that started in the western province of Anbar and has spread to parts of Baghdad. Iraqi government officials have accused these Sunni tribesmen of abusing their partnership with the Americans to kill and kidnap residents.