Basra mirrors the reality?

BASRA APRIL 15. Critics say Sheik Muzahim Mustafa Kanan Tamimi is a former Iraqi General and a one-time Baath Party member. His supporters insist his brother's death at the hands of the former regime guarantees his anti-Saddam Hussein credentials.

Still, the controversy created by his appointment to lead the group trying to create a new civilian government in Basra illustrates the difficulties in choosing new leaders, local or otherwise, from among Iraq's divided interests. Just over a week ago, after British forces took control of Iraq's second-largest city, they began establishing the first post-war civilian administration in the country, tapping a man they initially identified merely as a local tribal leader.

He was to be given a free hand in setting up an administrative committee representing regional groups. The civilian leadership would parallel what the Pentagon-appointed Jay Garner, the retired U.S. General charged with forming an interim post-war administration, was hoping to do in defining a new leadership for the entire country. The troubles began after it emerged that Mr. Tamimi, a Shia Muslim, had been a Brigadier General in the Iraqi military and a member of Saddam's repressive Ba'ath Party.

The problems that have erupted reveal the long time enmity that has existed between majority Shia Muslims and the Sunni minority that dominated Mr. Hussein's government. — AP

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