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After failing to capture him at home, US and Iraqi forces are closing in on the Shrine of Imam Ali as part a major offensive to crush Muqtada al-Sadr-s army--not just in Najaf, but in other parts of Iraq as well. Meantime, Islamic clerics and Arab spokesmen warn that the consequences could be disastrous for America-s image in the Muslim world. American leaders admit it-s a gamble, but the credibility of Iyad Allawi-s interim government is at stake as well as security throughout the country. Will the confrontation be a turning point in the war in Iraq? How long can the Medhi militia hold out? Will US forces attack the Shrine of Imam Ali? What are the prospects for Iraq-s interim government and America-s image in the Muslim world? Warren Olney hears from journalists in Iraq and the Middle East, the head of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and experts in defense, US Iraq policy and political Islam.
  • Reporter's Notebook: Contractors in Iraq Face Constant Threat of Violence
    As US forces struggle to bring security to Iraq, another mission is still underway, the creation of a western-style entrepreneurial economy. That is the job of private contractors, including nonprofits. As this week-s military engagements have escalated, their work has been anything but routine. From Baghdad, Mike Levett of Citizens Development Corps reports on what it's like trying to do business with the constant, unremitting threat of deadly violence.

NPR feature on the significance of Najaf's Shrine of Imam Ali

MSNBC feature on US-Iraqi Najaf offensive

Time article on showdown in Najaf

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