The key message
The Mahdi Army fighter gets nervous every time he passes an Iraqi army checkpoint in Sadr City. He has even shaved his beard, a sign of his piety and his fealty to the Shiite Muslim militia, so the soldiers won't recognize him. "I am hunted. I can't stay home. The neighbors are informing on us," 28-year-old Bassem said at a recent rally for his leader, cleric Muqtada Sadr. Using a derogatory term for the Iraqi army, he added, "Four times, the dirty division has raided my house." But Sadr's fortunes have also plummeted, and his followers now contemplate a world where they are on the run and their Shiite rivals have the upper hand.
That's not to say the threat has disappeared. The recent bombs in Baghdad and nearby suggest that remnants of the insurgency are now adapting. According to CBC News in recent weeks there appears to have been an uptick in small-scale bombings during the morning rush hour — targeting Iraqi police and army patrols, government officials heading for work or commuters.