“Death squads,” “ethnic cleansing” and political assasinations are the realities of the democracy said to be emerging in Iraq. The New York Times paints a grim picture of the new Iraq, as both Sunnis and Shiites flee their homes in response to escalating sectarian violence.

NYT: The country’s new leaders were only five days into their jobs Thursday morning, when a BMW filled with armed men pulled alongside a van carrying the sister of Iraq’s new Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi. The men opened fire, killing Maysoon al-Hashemi, a 61-year-old grandmother.

Just two weeks before, Mr. Hashemi’s brother Mahmoud, a father of six, was shot to death in a similar way. At his sister’s funeral service Thursday, Mr. Hashemi walked behind her coffin and looked on as his men lifted it into an S.U.V. that then carried her to Martyrs’ Cemetery in northern Baghdad. The silver-haired Mr. Hashemi turned and walked away, his head hung low. “Let’s go back, guys,” he said to his men. Ms. Hashemi’s murder offered not just another reminder of the horrible sacrifices made by so many Iraqis who have signed on to the American-backed democratic project here. It also highlighted what has become the single most confounding paradox of Iraq’s and America’s three-year-old war: that the democratic process, seen as the main hope for ending the violence, has been unable to stop it. Two constitutions, two elections and a referendum later, Iraq is reeling toward more chaos, not less. link

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