Interesting that this article speaks of a coalition of 5 Islamist groups against the Fadhila faction and the reigning governor. Other articles speak of the battle as being with this faction and Al Sadr. If things really blow up in Basra this will be one more problem for the US and UK. In the north trouble is also brewing in Kirkuk.This is from this site.
Basra factions gear up for fight
By Marsi Abutaug
Azzaman, April 28, 2007
Rival factions in the southern city of Basra have mobilized their armed militias for what many residents expect to be a ferocious fight over control of the provincial council.
Residents are hoarding essentials with sporadic clashes between the factions intensifying in the past three days in which various weapons were used.
As armed groups fortify positions in major streets and amid heavily populated areas the occupying British troops charged with security have so far shown little concern.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has not move a finger to contain the spiral of violence in the city which could easily spread to other areas.
The Basra Islamic Front, an umbrella for five Islamist groups, is reported to have deployed nearly 7,000 armed men in the city in a bid to force current governor Mohammed al-Waili to quit.
Waili belongs to the rival Fadhila faction whose armed men are guarding the governor’s headquarters in the city and vowing to fight off the attackers.
Basra is the capital of the predominantly Muslim Shiite province of the same name. There are fears that the growing tension may adversely affect the country’s oil output.
Basra oil fields are crucial to the country’s exports with output form the northern oil fields of Kirkuk shrinking.
The Fadhila party of governor Waili is reported to be in control of Iraq’s Southern Oil Company which administers the province’s oil output.
Fadhila supporters hold key positions in the industry and analysts say the current feud is more over control of oil than the provincial council.