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Iraq Needs a Road Map to End Sectarian Violence

Iraq’s religious leaders need to help broker the political compromise that is eluding its political leaders.
Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi speaks during a news conference in Baghdad July 31, 2011.    REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen (IRAQ - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR2PHJW

This month proved to be the deadliest in Iraq since US troops pulled out of the country. Nearly 300 people have been killed in the past week, while more than 70 were slain by several car bombs last week. The killing machine claimed lives of civilians from the Shiite and Sunni communities in what seems to be an exchange of messages by militant groups. A similar polarization divides the political class whose members exchanged blame and accusations while the sounds of deadly explosions are heard in the background.

The clash is not only sectarian and personal but is also an institutional one, as exemplified by successive press conferences held by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.  After Monday's attacks, Maliki refused Nujaifi’s calls to hold a parliamentary session to discuss the failures of the government in dealing with the security issue. Maliki said that parliament is a partner in this deterioration, urging “the members who seek to soothe the situation to avoid participation in the urgent session." He argued that such a session would be another occasion to intensify the sectarian discourse, repeatedly criticizing parliament's performance and accusing some unnamed members of using their immunity to support terrorism. Again, the prime minister threatened to uncover the names of those members and demanded to deprive them of immunity. On Tuesday, his coalition, State of Law, boycotted the session, which then became a consultative one due to the failure to reach the quorum.

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