Iraqi Sahwa Movement Leader Slams Maliki as Sectarian

The leader of the Iraqi Sahwa Movement, Ahmed Abu Risha, has criticized Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his alleged sectarian hypocrisy, writes Oudai Hatem.

al-monitor Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha attended an anti-government demonstration in Ramadi, 100 km (62 miles) west of Baghdad, Feb. 15, 2013.  Photo by REUTERS/Mohammed Al-Kubaisi.

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anti-maliki protests, nouri al-maliki, maliki, iraqi politics

Feb 25, 2013

In an interview with Al-Hayat, Ahmad Abu Risha, leader of Sahwa Movement and a key figure of anti-government protests, declared that “Nouri al-Maliki is sectarian, as is the meeting he held in Basra with only Shiite governors. If Maliki did not approach this meeting from a sectarian point of view, he would have included the governors of Anbar, Saladin and Mosul provinces.”

Abu Risha called on Maliki to “sue himself since he is the main promoter of sectarianism and the reason behind the escalating tension in the country.”

Abu Risha was referring to the statements Maliki made two days ago, in which he threatened to sue “promoters of sectarianism,” accusing some countries, without specifying names, of “entrenching sectarianism in Iraq.”

Regarding the extension of the mandatory vacation of al-Iraqiya List ministers, Abu Risha considered that the “participation of al-Iraqiya ministers in the government will transform them into false witnesses; therefore, I call upon them to withdraw from the government. There’s no point in maintaining their participation.”

Information sources closely tied to the prime minister’s office have revealed that “Maliki has issued a decision to extend the mandatory vacation of al-Iraqiya ministers who boycotted the session for another month.”

Abu Risha denied forming a delegation to negotiate with the government, stressing that “the demands have been handed to the government since the first days of demonstrations. Sending more delegations will be in vain; the protests will continue until the government fulfills the demands.”

Maliki declared during the meeting with the governors of the central and southern provinces in Basra that “the most dangerous challenge at this point is sectarianism. We were able to eradicate and move past it. Yet, some political partners have relapsed and started to bring it up again. This relapse should be treated like a disease. Those who are talking about sectarianism should be held accountable; I will issue a warrant against them.”

Maliki accused some countries, without specifying names, of “entrenching sectarianism in Iraq and having an agenda to take over the country through the means of sectarianism; such an agenda will not do the Iraqis any good.” Maliki called for a “halt to the sectarian talk since it negates the constitution, threatens national security and results in bloodshed.”

“Unity in Iraq should be the main focus. Iraq is a unified country for all its citizens, in which no party prevails at the expense of another,” he added.

“Satellite channels are laughing at politicians and presenters for uttering unacceptable, illogical words,” Maliki said. “The Arab spring has been unfortunately transformed into an autumn and become a hell,” added Maliki, confirming that “political stability is the key; once lost because of conflicts and intolerance, it opens the door wide for terrorism and al-Qaeda to destabilize and pose threats to countries. It also threatens Iraq since terrorism has no limits nor morals and values.”

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