“We’re closer now than ever…”

Concerns grow as Friday prayers loom.

BAGHDAD — I’ve been talking to some folks today about the political crisis, and was struck by a few quotes:

“We’re closer now than ever, if we’re not already in civil war, and I don’t know what can stop it now. Except maybe U.S. troops back on the streets.” — senior Coalition advisor to the Ministry of Interior.

“This is their chance to take the political process hostage.” — from MP Mithal al-Alousi, secular politician worried about the Shi’ites using yesterday’s attack to push back against American/Kurdish/Sunni pressure to loosen their grip on the levers of power.

“We did our best to bring him into the political process.” — head of SCIRI’s political relations committee, Redha Jawad Taqi, on Moqtada al-Sadr. He is concerned that members of parliament loyal to al-Sadr resorted to threats of violence to get their way in parliament. “They believe wrong things about democracy. We hope they can be taught the rules.”

In other news around Iraq, three journalists from al-Arabiyah Television were killed in Samarra after being kidnapped some time last night. They were correspondent Atwar Bahjat, cameraman Adnan Abdallah and sound engineer Khalid Muhsin. They were covering the attack on the shrine in Samarra.

Today, the office of Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement denouncing the attack on the Askari shrine and blaming the government, the Americans and “crusaders.”