Part political, part religious, all sectarian. Via the New York Times:
In the first Iraqi elections since the American troop withdrawal, Sunni candidates are being attacked and killed in greater numbers than in recent campaigns, raising concerns in Washington over Iraq’s political stability and the viability of a democratic system the United States has heavily invested in over years of war and diplomacy.
At least 15 candidates, all members of the minority Sunni community, have been assassinated — some apparently by political opponents, others by radical Sunni militants. Many others have been wounded or kidnapped or have received menacing text messages or phone calls demanding that they withdraw.
By going after members of their own sect, radical Sunnis aligned with Al Qaeda are effectively seeking to destabilize the Shiite-led government, making an already angry and alienated community fearful to participate in national governance. At the same time, it appears intra-Sunni rivalries are inadvertently aiding the radical cause, as Sunnis kill political adversaries in their quest for power.
[photo by Mohammed Ameen via the New York Times]