Iraq crisis: Nouri al-Maliki is ‘taking Iraq to hell’ by rejecting salvation government

Hated by Sunni, Shia and Kurds, the PM must go immediately. But is an inclusive regime possible?

baghdad

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is rejecting calls for an interim “national salvation government” that would seek to represent all Iraqi communities, claiming that such a government, under which he would step down, would be “a coup against the constitution”.

Mr Maliki is opposed by the Sunni, Kurds, several Shia parties, the US and the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shia spiritual leader. To have a chance of keeping his job he would need the full support of Iran, which does not want him to be replaced by a pro-American prime minister.

Speaking today, Mr Maliki said: “We desperately need to take a comprehensive national stand to defeat terrorism, which is seeking to destroy our gains of democracy and freedom, set our differences aside and join efforts.”

 

Ghassan al-Attiyah, a political scientist and activist, said: “By staying on Maliki is playing into the hands of Sunni extremists. He is taking Iraq to hell.”

By not standing down, he increases the chance of the Kurds seceding from Iraq as they have threatened to do in the past. Mr Attiyah warned: “The Syrian civil war has gone on for three years but an Iraqi civil war could go on for five or six years.”

After the loss of most of Anbar province – that sprawls across western Iraq – at the weekend, the battle lines have steadied with the government forces still fighting for Iraq’s biggest refinery at Baiji.

Mr Maliki is opposed by the Sunni, Kurds, several Shia parties, the US and the Grand Ayatollah Mr Maliki is opposed by the Sunni, Kurds, several Shia parties, the US and the Grand Ayatollah (Getty)

State television showed pictures of reinforcements landing at the refinery to prove that the government still holds some parts of it, though Baiji town some distance away is held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis).

Mr Maliki is insisting that he stay on until parliament meets on 1 July to choose a new speaker, president and prime minister. But this could involve lengthy political manoeuvres without any real leadership from the Baghdad government. Mr Maliki is a hate figure to Iraq’s Sunni community, which has risen in revolt led by Isis, and he is almost equally unpopular among the Kurds.

The US is demanding an inclusive government that would bring on board Sunni leaders, but it is by no means clear who these would be.

The Sunni uprising is being led by Isis, which sees Iraq’s 60 per cent Shia majority as heretics and apostates who only deserve death.

Diplomats hope that Isis could be side-lined by other Sunni groups and by tribal leaders, but Isis’s ferocity and careful organisation makes it unlikely that it would be displaced easily. 

In the long term, the Sunni community may find that by joining a revolt led by Isis it has stored up great dangers for itself in future. It has invited sectarian civil war, will be internationally isolated and cannot negotiate with Baghdad.

The refinery at Baiji has been the scene of intermittent fighting since Isis launched its attack against Iraqi government forces last week The refinery at Baiji has been the scene of intermittent fighting since Isis launched its attack against Iraqi government forces last week (EPA)

There are other questions, such as what will happen to over one million Sunni in Baghdad in enclaves surrounded by Shia. “I am frightened and I stay at home most of the time,” said a Sunni who did not want to give his name. “I never go out at night.”

Much depends on whether Isis has shot its bolt for the moment and is over-extended, having made more gains than it expected. It could attack Baghdad, a move unlikely to succeed because of the Shia majority. Alternatively, it could try to encircle the capital by cutting the main road linking Baghdad to Najaf and the south.

There were reports that Isis had taken the Sunni towns of Iskandariyah and Mahmoudiyah on this crucial road, but these were denied by local people who said the government had heavily reinforced its positions there.

Iran is being drawn further into the conflict supplying weapons and operational leadership.

A report by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said an attack near Iran’s western border with Iraq has killed three Iranian border guards. They were said to have died on Tuesday night while patrolling along the border in western Kermanshah province.

US President Barack Obama has offered up to 300 American advisers to Iraq, about 130 of whom have now been deployed.d

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Test Analyst

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Tes...

NQ Litigation Solicitor

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Buckinghamshire - NQ Litigation Solicitor ...

Mechanical Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: MECHANICAL D...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried