First Published: 2012-04-05

 

Hashemi accuses Maliki of waging ‘systematic campaign’ against Sunnis

 

Fugitive Vice President says accusations against him of running death squad 'have sectarian dimension', noting that he is 'fifth Sunni figure to be targeted' by Iraq's Shiite-led government.

 

Middle East Online

More than 90% of detainees in Iraq are Sunnis

DUBAI - Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shiite government of waging a systematic campaign against Sunni Arabs in Iraq.

In an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Jazeera network aired late on Wednesday, Hashemi said the accusations against him of running a death squad "have a sectarian dimension," noting that he is the "fifth Sunni figure to be targeted" by Iraq's Shiite-led government.

"More than 90 percent of the detainees in Iraq are Sunnis," said Hashemi, who pledged to return to Iraq to carry out his vice presidential duties despite Maliki's demands for him to face trial.

Hashemi sharply criticised Maliki, saying that "corruption in the country is widespread" and warning that the prime minister's policies were threatening "the unity of Iraq."

Hashemi also alleged that Maliki's government is providing "military assistance" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, arguing that his support for Syria's leadership, which he has previously accused of funding terrorism, is motivated by sectarian considerations.

"There is information about Iraqi militias fighting alongside the Syrian regime," Hashemi told Al-Jazeera. There are also "unconfirmed reports that Iraq's airspace is being used to help (Assad's) regime," he added, hinting at Iranian involvement.

Maliki has rejected attempts by Sunni-led Gulf Arab states to arm Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, arguing that such a move will trigger an even bigger crisis in the region.

The Syrian uprising has raised regional sectarian tensions.

Syria's minority rulers are Alawites -- an offshoot of Shiite Islam -- who are trying to cling to power by brutally suppressing anti-regime protests led by the country's majority Sunnis.

In Iraq, a Shiite-dominated government has ruled over the minority Sunni Arabs since the 2003 US-led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein.

Hashemi spoke to Al-Jazeera in Doha during a controversial four-day visit that sparked a wave of criticism by Iraq's Shiite leadership, which demanded that Qatar extradite the fugitive leader.

Qatar rejected Baghdad's request, saying it violated "diplomatic norms."

Hashemi travelled to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, where he met Prince Saud al-Faisal, the kingdom's foreign minister.

He has said he would return to Iraq's northern autonomous Kurdistan, which he fled to in December.

 

Iraqi PM urged Kurdistan to drop any plans for independence

Erdogan threatens to send millions of refugees to EU

Moscow ready to discuss modalities of ceasefire in Syria

Train derails in Egypt’s Bani Sueif province

Iran making fresh pitch for tourists

Russia accuses US planes of hitting Aleppo

Anti-ISIS coalition looks to decisive new phase

Turkey, Israel open new normalisation talks

Assault on Aleppo displaces tens of thousands

Moroccan King inaugurates Aquaculture Farm in Oued Ed-dahab

Turkish forces end operation in southern town

NATO launches unprecedented Aegean migrant naval mission

Suspected PKK militants attack two Turkey pro-govt newspapers

Iranians mark 37 years since Islamic revolution

Egypt hires UK firm to review Sharm security

Tunisia makes $500 million from assets of ousted president

Turkey dismisses pressure to open borders as 'hypocritical'

Efforts to form Libya unity government stumble over defence portfolio

Iran blames failure of Syria peace talks on participation of ‘terrorists’

Syria opposition hopes for end of sieges

UAE names women state ministers in major government shake-up

French Foreign Minister steps down with criticism of US role in Syria

Germany hopes Syria talks in Munich will agree to provide aid

Syrian Kurdish separatists open Moscow representation

Jordan rejects France extradition request for 1982 terror attack suspects

Libya parliament extends deadline for formation of new unity government

Herzog wants Israel to begin separation from Palestinian areas

Khomeini grandson loses appeal against exclusion from Iran elections

Turkey, US split deepens over support for Syria Kurds

EU tells members to accelerate refugee relocation

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince in India: String of trade, security deals expected

Syria regime's Aleppo offensive kills more than 500

Ex-Israeli PM’s prison sentence extended

Turkey summons US envoy over Syria Kurds row

Unstable dam affecting Mosul recapture

Jihadist attacks bring Egypt's tourist industry to its knees

‘Hell’ falling on Aleppo

Enormous challenges emerge after full liberation of Ramadi

Hamas fighter dies in latest tunnel collapse

Aleppo siege spells trouble for the West

Egypt policeman jailed for beating vet to death

How many civilians are living under 'surrender or starve' sieges in Syria?

NATO to consider policing refugee crisis

Iran deal will delay bomb up to 15 years

Top spy warns homegrown extremists pose biggest danger to US