Iraq’s deputy Prime Minister accuses Nouri al-Maliki of acting like “a dictator” amid fears of “chaos and civil war.”Baghdad, Iraq – Less than 24 hours after the US military withdrew the last of its occupation forces from Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an arrest warrant for Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi on terrorism charges.
Maliki, a Shia, levelled the charges against the highest ranking Sunni in the government – a move that threatens to drag the country back into sectarian bloodshed such as what occurred in 2006-2007 and led to tens of thousands of Iraqis being killed.
The move is particularly dangerous at this time, given the power vacuum created by the US withdrawal.
Just three days after US forces withdrew from Iraq, on December 21, Maliki placed Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician and a leader of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, on “extended leave”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, Mutlaq called on Maliki to step down, accusing the prime minister of governing like a dictator and leading the country into chaos.
“My advice to him [Maliki] is that he should leave his chair because he is the reason behind all that is happening in Iraq because he turned into a real dictator in this country,” Mutlaq told Al Jazeera.
Mutlaq said this is the most dangerous situation Iraq has been in since the occupation, and said the way Maliki is running the country “will lead to chaos and a civil war”.
“He [Maliki] is a dictator without wisdom,” Mutlaq said, and called for Maliki to step down immediately. “He should leave his position for somebody else and [we should] form a new government until we reach the election.”
Maliki has defended his moves, claiming to adhere to the power-sharing agreement and the Iraqi constitution.
Further complicating matters, the political bloc loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called for the parliament to be dissolved and new elections to be held. So has Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Barzani said there should be early elections if the political leaders fail to resolve the crisis. He said that Iraq is facing the most dangerous crisis since the Americans entered the country in 2003, adding that Iraq’s constitution allows for federalism and Maliki has no right to object to it or to the creation of federal regions, which more Iraqi provincial leaders are aiming to do.