Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Allawi: crisis tearing Iraq apart

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, January 18, 2012
BAGHDAD — Iraq needs new leaders to prevent the country from disintegrating, the leader of the main Sunni-backed bloc said Wednesday, reflecting the severity of a sectarian political battle in the Shiite-led government, accompanied by violence, just a month after the exit of U.S. forces.
The leader of the Iraqiya bloc, Ayad Allawi, was responding to a bold step by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, issuing an arrest warrant against the nation’s top Sunni official, sending him into virtual internal exile.
“Iraq is at a crossroads and I say that Iraq needs forgiving leaders, who will raise above their personal hatred,” Allawi told a new conference in Baghdad, accusing the government of stoking sectarian tensions to divert attention from its failures.
The government crisis has intensified sectarian resentments that have remained raw in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion unleashed fierce fighting between Sunni and Shiite militias battling for dominance and killing tens of thousands civilians on both sides of the sectarian divide just a few years ago.
Attacks have surged since the last U.S. troops left Dec. 18.

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