(McClatchy / Worthy News)-- The likely breakup of Iraq into feuding ethnic and sectarian bastions accelerated Friday as Iraq's senior Shiite Muslim cleric broke years of support for the central government and decreed that every able-bodied Shiite man had a religious obligation to defend the sect’s holy sites from rebellious Sunni Muslims led by fighters from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
In answer to the call, thousands of Shiites _ many with militia experience from the sectarian war that pitted Sunnis against Shiites and killed thousands from 2006 to 2008 -- flooded the cities of Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala to receive weapons, enlist in organized units and receive their orders.
"The statement by the marja, Sistani," he said, using an Arabic term of respect that loosely means "object of emulation," "has changed everything now. It says we should fight as Shiites to protect Shiites. I think this means there is no Iraqi state now." -- Source