So many men from this oil-rich region of southern Iraq have been killed in battle with Islamic State militants that it has come to be known as “the district of martyrs.”
In the last three years of war, Iraq’s Shiite-led government has overcome challenges posed by Sunni insurgents and Kurdish separatists. But now it faces a reckoning among its core Shiite constituency, including many who fought to keep the country united and paid with the deaths of their sons and fathers.
Those watching Iraq’s Shiite heartland see a hardening among the country’s majority. Discontent there, expressed in demands for better services and a growing disregard for state authority, poses risks to a unified and stable Iraq, according to Sajad Jiyad, the managing director of Baghdad-based think-tank al-Bayan.