Kill charge deepens Iraq crisis

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki meets with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby at his office in Baghdad December 8, 2011.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Photo: Reuters

IRAQ has been plunged into its deepest political crisis in years after the  Shiite-dominated government ordered the arrest of the Sunni vice-president,  accusing him of running a death squad that assassinated police officers and  government officials.

The sensational charges just one day after the US withdrew its last combat  troops drew a worried response from Washington and brought Iraq’s tenuous  partnership government to the edge of collapse. A major Sunni-backed political  coalition said its ministers would walk off their jobs, leaving adrift agencies  that handle Iraq’s finances, schools and agriculture.

The accusations against Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi also underlined fears  that Iraq’s leaders may now be using the very institutions America has spent  millions of dollars trying to strengthen – the police, the courts, the media –  as a cudgel to batter their political enemies and consolidate power.

Mr Hashimi last night was in the northern semi-autonomous region of  Kurdistan, beyond the reach of security forces controlled by Baghdad. It was  unclear when – or if – he would return to Baghdad.

In Washington, where officials have been quietly celebrating the end of the  war, Obama administration officials sounded alarmed about the arrest order.

”We are talking to all of the parties and expressed our concern regarding  these developments,” said National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor.  ”We are urging all sides to work to resolve differences … in a manner  consistent with the rule of law and the democratic political process.”

The breakdown in relations between Prime Minister  Nuri al-Maliki and Mr  Hashimi and his Iraqiya Party arrived at an inopportune moment for the  administration. US officials have spent years trying to urge Iraq’s  Shiite-dominated government to work with the country’s Sunni minority, and are  wary of having things fall apart now.

President Barack Obama said last week, in remarks welcoming troops back to  Fort Bragg,  that Iraq’s future would now be ”in the hands of the Iraqi  people”.

But having removed its combat troops, it was unclear whether the US retained  enough influence to limit sectarian tensions that some analysts say could drag  the country back into the chaos of past years and even split it along  geographical lines.

The government made its case against Mr Hashimi in a half-hour television  broadcast. In grainy video confessions, three men said they had committed  murders on Mr Hashimi’s behalf. They said they had blown up cars, attacked  convoys with silenced pistols and were rewarded with envelopes containing $3000  in US bills.

To government critics, the charges seemed to be part of a wide-reaching  consolidation of power by Mr Maliki. Amid the anxiety stirred by the US  departure and unrest in neighbouring Syria, Mr Maliki, a Shiite, has tightened  his grip on this divided nation by marginalising, intimidating or arresting his  political rivals, many of whom are part of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

An aide to Mr Hashimi denounced the charges. ”This is a coup over all  partners, on political process, on the constitution … This is the new  dictatorship.”

Jack Healy, Baghdad

 

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About pagan66

I am Pagan, a Witch, a Healer, Mystic & Dreamer. I live in Service to the One. I will Protect & Respect Her bounties to my last breath. I am a Seeker of Truth, a Reformer, A Historian - an Advocate for Religious Freedom, Tolerance & Human Rights. I am a Protector of Animals & Children & those less fortunate than myself. I am a Reader & a Writer - an Artist. I am a Drummer, Gardener & Cook. I listen to the Wisdom of the Ancients. If you take a copy of the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain." Herbalist Carol McGrath as told to her by a Native-American woman. "When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she or he follows an earth or nature religion, one that sees the divine manifest in all creation. The cycles of nature are our holy days, the earth is our temple, its plants and creatures our partners and teachers. We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation." Edain McCoy View all posts by pagan66

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