Tension rise as Iraq seeks Sunni VP arrest.

Iraq's vice presidential nominee Tareq al-Hashemi speaks at a news conference in Baghdad February 28, 2011.  REUTERS/Saad Shalash

Iraq’s vice presidential nominee Tareq al-Hashemi speaks at a news conference in Baghdad February 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Saad Shalash

By Rania El Gamal

BAGHDAD | Mon Dec 19, 2011 5:22pm EST

(Reuters) – Iraqi authorities issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Muslim Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi on Monday for suspected ties to assassinations and bombings, a decision likely to fuel sectarian tensions after the U.S. troop withdrawal.

The move risks unraveling Iraq’s fragile power-sharing deal among Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs who have struggled to overcome tensions just a few years after sectarian slaughter drove the country to the edge of a civil war.

Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Adel Daham, told a news conference confessions by suspects identified as Hashemi’s bodyguards linked the vice president to killings and attacks on Iraqi government and security officials.

“An arrest warrant was issued for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi according to Article 4 of the terrorism law and is signed by five judges… this warrant should be executed,” Daham said, waving a copy of the document in front of reporters.

The political struggle between Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his Sunni rivals in the country’s delicate power-sharing deal has intensified during the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops nearly nine years after the invasion.

The ministry showed taped confessions, aired on state-run Iraqiya television and other local media, of men it claimed were members of Hashemi’s security detail. The men said they had been paid by his office to carry out killings.

The three men shown on television detailed the assassinations they were told to carry out by Hashemi’s aides including planting roadside bombs and driveby shootings of security and government officials.

One man said he was handed $3,000 as a reward by Hashemi himself.

But the identity of the men could not be independently confirmed.

Hashemi, who could not be contacted for a response, was in Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous enclave in the north, Kurdish political sources said. Kurdistan has its own government and security forces, making Hashemi’s immediate arrest unlikely.

In a statement earlier on Monday, Hashemi accused Maliki’s government of “deliberate harassment” after his plane was delayed for three hours at Baghdad airport. He had been heading for the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya to meet the Iraqi president.

Security forces arrested three Hashemi bodyguards on their way back from the airport, the statement said, adding military forces surrounding Hashemi’s house for weeks had been beefed up.

“The vice-president has been very patient and is waiting for a reasonable explanation from the government parties concerned,” the statement said.


Fearing a deepening crisis that could push Iraq back into sectarian turmoil, senior Iraqi politicians were holding talks with Maliki and other leaders to contain the dispute.

The U.S. ambassador in Iraq was in contact with senior Iraqi leaders, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad said, without providing details on which figures or the matters under discussion.

Violence has ebbed sharply since the peak of attacks in 2006-07 when suicide bombings and hit-squads claimed thousands of victims in tit-for-tat killing between Sunni and Shi’ite communities.

But sectarian tensions are close to the surface and still color many aspects of Iraqi political life.

The completion of the U.S. withdrawal on Sunday left many Iraqis fearful that a shaky peace deal between majority Shi’ites and minority Sunnis might collapse and reignite sectarian violence.

Maliki over the weekend asked parliament for a vote of no-confidence against another leading Sunni politician, Saleh al-Mutlaq, who is deputy prime minister, on the grounds that he lacked faith in the political process.

Hashemi and Mutlaq are both leaders of the Iraqiya bloc, a secular group backed by minority Sunnis, which joined Maliki’s unity government only reluctantly and recently boycotted parliament sessions after complaining of being marginalized

Many Sunnis, who were in power under Saddam, feel shunted aside by the rise of Shi’ites after the invasion. Already some Sunni-dominated regions in Iraq are seeking more autonomy from the central government, chaffing against what they see as an increasingly authoritarian tack taken by Maliki.

(Additional reporting Kareem Raheem; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Serena Chaudhry/Maria Golovnina)


8 thoughts on “JUST COULDN’T WAIT…

  1. The main fight to the death has always been between the Sunnis and the Shiites.
    There are some 20 other islamic minority sects in Iraq who were slaughtered while the clueless Idiots of America put their boots on the ground in Iraq. Clueless about the culture, the customs, the traditions, the tribalism of Iraq. We knew it would be one big FAILURE from the beginning. These are tribes you are dealing with — impossible mission as Islam has got them by their every organ.

    Muslim societies need strong men like Saddam Hussein to keep the braying baring teeth of muslim hyenas from causing mayhem and death and damage to property. America, led by infantile minds, could only prattle about “democracy” “human rights” which means nothing to muslims who live by the quran and die for/by the quran.

    America will NEVER learn about Islam or about muslims till there are daily bombings and the picking of human parts become a daily occurrence. America will fold double quick. For America is NOT Israel.

    BTW, there’s a breath taking analysis by Gareth Porter on how Maliki and Iran Outsmarted the U.S. on Troop Withdrawal


  2. Muslim societies will /can’t rid Islam. Individual muslims do, have done, and most are hiding that fact as it means death for apostasy in Islam. The ones to rid are the imams. These are the war mongers, the ones calling for jihad against non muslims.
    Unfortunately, it is the West that is encouraging them, coddling them, imposing dhimmitude on its populace. The West is swarming with Leftists whose policy has been to oppose war against jihad. They work to destroy freedom because they want to see the people of the world in chains. Never forget that they are our enemies. Never fail to treat them accordingly. We in the East do that, very nicely.

    Thailand has to put up with their Buddhists beheaded b/c of America’s arselicking of muslims in the South.

    • I don’t think it is just the imams..This seems to be an entire wave happening among even the average Muslim.

      And in reality, how does one tell the “moderate from the extremist” especially when their goal seems to the the same?

  3. Did you read America’s marvellous policy of Divide and Rule in Iraq that had 74 murdered yesterday?

    In the original invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US brought into being a level of sectarian discord and ultimately sectarian fighting that had not been in Iraq prior to the US invasion.
    The US very consciously created a governing structure with its occupation of Iraq that was based on sectarian divide; it was based on sectarian identity that had not been primary in Iraq. — Phyllis Bennis, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies

    And for this, America and Americans will pay. They have blood on their hands.

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