First Published: 2013-01-06

 

Maliki blames Iraq mounting crises on regional polarisation

 

Iraqi Prime Minister says ‘regional competition’ is negatively affecting Iraq, in apparent reference to violence in Syria, two weeks of rallies in Anbar province.

 

Middle East Online

‘What is surrounding us is affecting Iraq badly’

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday warned of "polarisation" across the region as he led a low-key ceremony marking the anniversary of the founding of the country's armed forces.

Maliki said "regional competition" was negatively affecting Iraq, an apparent reference to the violence in Syria where mainly Sunni rebels are fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime, and two weeks of rallies in Iraq's western Anbar province, which is mostly Sunni.

"Regional competition and polarisation exists in the region, and what is surrounding us, sectarian tension, is affecting Iraq badly," Maliki said in a speech to army officers in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

"Our forces now are not fighting terrorist groups or isolated criminal groups, they are fighting groups backed by dangerous Takfirist (extremist) ideology."

Maliki's Shiite-led government has faced two weeks of angry protests in Sunni-majority provinces, with demonstrators complaining of their community being targeted by the authorities.

Officials also fear the impact of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, and have tried to maintain a delicate balancing act of not calling for Assad's regime, dominated by the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam, to go and not explicitly backing it.

In his speech marking the 92nd anniversary of the founding of Iraq's army, Maliki also called for the armed forces to be equipped to be a defensive force, but added that Iraq did not want an "arms race."

"The army today is responsible for protecting a great country and it must be up to the task," Maliki said. "It should be well trained and equipped with modern weapons, and that is what we are seeking for it."

Army Day celebrations in Iraq were much more low key than in previous years.

Officials cited the requirement for tens of thousands of soldiers to maintain security at Arbaeen commemorations, when pilgrims walk to the shrine city of Karbala for a mourning ritual for a revered figure in Shiite Islam.

Many military units have also been deployed close to disputed territory in north Iraq that is also claimed by the autonomous Kurdish region, and to Iraq's western border with Syria.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli

Israel approves plans for 1,000 settler homes in East Jerusalem