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.

 

Saudi warns of 'disastrous consequences' over US 9/11 law

OPEC agrees deal to cut oil output

UN warns 'hundreds' in Aleppo need medical evacuation

Amnesty accuses Sudan of using chemical arms against Darfur civilians

Palestinian president to attend Peres funeral

UN warns 700,000 will need aid once Mosul offensive starts

Saudi seeks oil leadership in economic pinch

Egypt court suspends block on island transfer to Saudi

Bid for international Yemen war probe fails at UN

King Abdullah visits home of murdered writer

Bahrain says 9/11 bill will harm US

9/11 bill puts US, Saudi cooperation in question

UN envoy says Syria talks 'very difficult with bombs falling'

Erdogan says Moody's was 'bought' after downgrade

Erdogan: Turkey may need state of emergency for more than a year

Iraqi activist wins Norway rights prize

Kidnapped German woman, baby freed in Syria

Turkey stops Kurdish TV broadcasts

A year of bombing in Syria triggers limited interest in Russia

Obama defends refusal to use military force to end Syria civil war

US Congress overrides Obama's veto of Saudi 9/11 bill

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump

Iranian, Italian ships hold manoeuvres in Strait of Hormuz

Gunmen kill three Egypt policemen, civilian in Sinai

Turkey says 32,000 coup suspects awaiting trial

Paris to host international meeting on Libya

Etihad plane in emergency landing in Abu Dhabi

Struggling Saudi Oger lays off 1,300 staff

Israel ex-PM to serve 27 months for graft

Syrian kids return to school in Manbij

World Bank releases $300 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan

UN Libya envoy warns against ‘political impasse’

Iranian FM in Ankara for Syria talks

Syrian army retakes rebel-held Aleppo district

Israeli ex-president Peres dies

Oil prices post marginal gains

Russia tries to strongarm US with Aleppo assault

Saudi petition seeks 'full' rights for women

Jordan vows crackdown on online incitement