Nouri al-Malaki Seeks Arrest Of Iraqi Vice-President
It didn’t take very long after the removal of American troops, for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki to begin trying to consolidate power:
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s Sunni vice president denied charges he ran a hit squad that killed government officials during the nation’s wave of sectarian bloodletting, accusing the Shiite-led government Tuesday of waging a campaign of persecution.
Acting just a day after American forces completed their withdrawal, the government issued an arrest warrant Monday for Tariq al-Hashemi, the country’s highest-ranking Sunni official. The step risks tearing at the same sectarian fault lines that pushed Iraq to the edge of civil war just a few years ago — a prospect that is all the more dire with no U.S. forces on the ground.
Responding to the accusations, al-Hashemi told a televised news conference Tuesday that he has not committed any “sin” against Iraq and described the charges as “fabricated.” He accused the Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, of being behind a plot to smear him and declared that efforts at national reconciliation had been blown apart.
“I’m shocked by all these things,” al-Hashemi told reporters in the northern city of Irbil. “I swear to God that al-Hashemi didn’t commit any sin or do anything wrong against any Iraqi either today or tomorrow and this is my pledge to God.”
He said the arrest warrant was a campaign to “embarrass” him. He blamed al-Maliki, although he did not say specifically what he believed the Shiite premier had done.
“Al-Maliki is behind the whole issue. The country is in the hands of al-Maliki. All the efforts that have been exerted to reach national reconciliation and to unite Iraq are now gone. So yes, I blame al-Maliki,” he said.
The Iraqi prime minister effectively runs the Interior Ministry, where the charges originated.
If this is an indication of how unstable Iraq really is, then all I can say is that I’m glad we got the heck out when we did.