BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Look in the pockets of Iraqis whose jobs take them around Baghdad every day and you are likely to find a clutch of passes and identity cards, one for every police, military or militia checkpoint they may run into.
"This one is says I'm Badr, this one I show to police, and I have the American press pass and my ordinary ID. I applied for a Mehdi Army pass on Friday but it hasn't arrived yet," said one Iraqi driver working for a foreign media organisation.
"I am Sunni so these passes mean I don't get in trouble with anyone while I'm out and about."
The sheer proliferation of armed groups -- some official, some unofficial and some that operate in the murky middle ground -- underscores the lawlessness of Iraq, where neither U.S. forces who invaded in 2003 nor the Iraqi armed forces they trained have been able to impose their authority on the whole country.
Add to that the militias, most drawn up on ethnic or religious lines, and the mix is potentially explosive as the sectarian violence that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war last week showed all too clearly.
The time for miracles for Iraq sure seem to have passed.
And it's all on Bush.