First Published: 2005-12-20

 
US ambassador warns Iraqi interior minister
 

Khalilzad urges Iraqi leaders to form broad-based cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian government.

 

Middle East Online

Stark warning

BAGHDAD - The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Tuesday issued a stark warning to Iraq's interior minister over the importance of impartiality, his second such rebuke within a week.

"For a police force to be credible it has to have the confidence of all the communities," he said. "You can't have someone regarded as sectarian as a minister of the interior," he said in his year end address.

Sunni Arabs have long accused the interior ministry, led by former Shiite militia member Bayan Jabr Solagh, of being used by militias to settle old scores with the Sunnis.

One week earlier, on December 13, Khalilzad criticized the ministry over the discovery of two detention facilities where predominantly Sunni detainees were tortured.

"This is unacceptable that this kind of abuse takes place," he said at the time.

Solagh had played down the abuse in the most recent case, admitting only that some of the detainees had been roughed up.

Khalilzad, however, publicly contradicted the minister.

"I can say that based on reports that I have received, in many instances it was far worse than slapping around," he said.

The US military also announced Monday that five US soldiers from an elite unit had been court martialed for abusing detainees, with sentences ranging from one to six months detention and two being discharged from the army.

Khalilzad also urged Iraqi leaders to form a broad-based cross-sectarian government after last week's general elections, with early results showing Shiite parties in the lead.

"For Iraq to work there's got to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian cooperation," Khalilzad told a news conference.

He expressed hope that once full results were known, Iraqi leaders would put together "a broad-based national unity government, a cross-sectarian and cross-ethnic government".

The outgoing transitional government was dominated by Shiites and Kurds, in part because the minority Sunni Arab community boycotted general elections last January.

Many more Sunnis took part in Thursday's poll for a full four-year government and overall voter participation increased from 58 percent in January to around 70 percent.

The exclusion of Sunni Arabs from much of the political process over the past year is seen as part of the reason for the ongoing insurgency, with Sunnis accused of providing much of the base support for the rebels.

 

Erdogan urges world to recognise Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

Gulf pours funds into West Africa anti-jihadist force

US skeptical about Putin's declaration of military victory in Syria

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison

Saudi king says Palestinians have 'right' to Jerusalem

Saudi King says determined to confront corruption

South Sudan needs $1.7 billion humanitarian aid in 2018

UAE oil giant floats 10 percent of retail arm to strong interest

Growing concern about rise of far-right in Austria

Saudi, UAE seeks to help West Africa fight terrorism

Somali journalist dies after Mogadishu bombing

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim

French FM accuses Iran of carving out ‘axis’ of influence

Over 170 dead after South Sudan rival cattle herders clash

Russia begins partial withdrawal from Syria

Russia weary of returning IS jihadists before World Cup, election

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations

Pentagon skeptical about Russia's Syria pullout claims

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move