perspective. Thank you very much to both of you. For more, I'm joined by Matt Bradley of the Wall Street journal and Alyssa Johansson Ruben of "The New York times." Both seasoned correspondents in... See More
perspective. Thank you very much to both of you. For more, I'm joined by Matt Bradley of the Wall Street journal and Alyssa Johansson Ruben of "The New York times." Both seasoned correspondents in this regregion. You have been covering this all week. Matt, you were with the shiite militias. A wild scene. Some mock suicide bombers calling themselves the peace brigade. What did you see and what does it mean? It was a scary sight. It was repeated in cities throughout south and west Iraq. We saw just tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of mostly young men, parading through the streets. Armed with sometimes fake weapons. Sometimes riding on trucks with fake anti-aircraft guns. All of it a bit of theater. It was aimed as intimidating and trying to send a message to the Sunni part of Iraq that the shiites would not be yielding, especially Baghdad and the shrines in some of the major pilgrimage cities of Iraq that Isis has directly threatened. This move toward shiite militias, toward civilian engagement is really quite threatening. It says we're headed back towards the kind of sectarian conflict that really almost tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007. And you have been with the Sunnis this week. They have to feel threatened. The my or the -- minority. I think they feel particularly threatened in Baghdad. There are fewer Sunnis here than in 2005, 2006, 2007. Because of the civil strife during that time. And so now their communities are a little more isolated. The people in them feel that the rising of these militias is a very dangerous moment for them. How did this happen so quickly? I think the rest of the world wasn't really paying attention to Iraq. Suddenly, Isis, this group people probably hadn't paid much attention to either, is sweeping through Iraq? U.s. Policymakers were well aware of the growing power of Isis. We saw areas in especially mosul, where all this started off, Isis and some of their Al qaeda-inspired partners were shaking down businesses. They were starting to exercise the troubles influence they did in the height of the sectarian conflict in Iraq back in 2006 and 2007. And also there were signs that the military just wasn't up to snuff. I want your thoughts, Alyssa, on what happens now. Everyone is on edge. It seems the threat to Baghdad has receded. What do you think happens now? I think there will be an effort to somehow strengthen the army. It will come from many sources. You know, we know that the Iranians are here. Iranian advisers are trying to work with the Iraqi army and improve them. They have trained some of the militias to a high level. The Americans sending in advisers. I think the question is is that -- is it too late for a really significant military solution. The larger question is, to what extent will Iraq's de facto borders, the borders of the central government be redefined by what Isis has done in the last few months. Thanks for joining us. Thanks for all of your great reporting.
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