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Issawi Crisis Signals More Iraqi Sectarian Violence

After Iraqi Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi’s bodyguard was arrested, sectarian tensions have resurfaced, threatening the Iraqi political scene, writes Ali Abdel Sadah.
A view of blast walls in front of the Shi'ite Askari shrine in Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad, August 10, 2011. Five years ago, a blast tore through Iraq's golden-domed Shi'ite Askari shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra, helping ignite two years of sectarian strife that drove Iraq to the brink of civil war. Now the shrine is being rebuilt and Shi'ite authorities are buying up nearby estates from Sunni residents to expand the mosque, risking reopening old sectarian wounds just as the last
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When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s security personnel arrested the bodyguard of the prominent Sunni political leader and Minister of Finance Rafi al-Issawi, sectarian rhetoric was quick to return to the surface, and in its wake emerged conflicting interpretations of the Iraqi political scene. To Iraqis, the arrest of and repeated accusations against prominent members of the al-Iraqiya List — led by Ayad Allawi — is reminiscent of the sectarian fighting of 2005 and 2007.

Is Iraq preparing to descend into a new cycle of sectarian violence?

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