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.

 

Deadly Sinai attacks force Sisi to cut short overseas trip

New Saudi king announces sweeping cabinet shake-up

UN chief to African leaders: do not 'cling to power'

Libya rivals to join peace talks if held on home soil

British mosques open doors to reach out to citizens

Israel to go ahead with 430 new West Bank settler homes

Israel reduces energy supplies to Palestinians

Syria opposition embassy in Qatar renews passports

Hezbollah sends message to Israel ‘conflict is over’

Women protest against Egypt police after fatal shooting

Libyan airline suspends flights

Iraq government vows to investigate Diyala massacre

MSF withdraws help from two Sudan states

Jordan wants to see proof pilot alive before exchange

US says thousands of Somali children facing starvation

Kuwait online activists arrested 'over Saudi criticism'

Iran, Europe officials to meet Thursday in Istanbul

IS issues new deadline to kill Jordanian pilot if demand not met

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah will pay 'full price'

African Union sees no military solution to Libya crisis

Yemen powerful militia prevents fresh protest in Sanaa

Iran appoints new UN ambassador after US visa refusal

Pentagon confirms US involvement in talks with Yemen Huthis

Hezbollah missiles threaten to spark new war in volatile region

In new website, France warns would-be jihadists: You will die alone

Israel retaliates against Hezbollah attack

Can Iraqis trust their government to rebuild their country?

Sheikh Ali Salman rejects charges as trial opens in Bahrain

Protesters try to storm UN headquarters in Gaza

UN peacekeeper killed in southern Lebanon amid border clash

Kobane in ruins after symbolic blow to jihadists

Jordan bows to IS demand

Hezbollah claims attack on Israeli military convoy

Somali PM proposes new cabinet list

Syria opposition groups, Assad representatives meet in Moscow

Yemen’s Huthis free top presidential aide

French FM urges international cooperation against extremism

Clock ticking towards 24-hour IS deadline to kill hostages

Obama, Saudi king discuss IS fight, Iran

Nine killed in luxury Tripoli hotel attack

Three killed in Tripoli luxury hotel attack

UN harshly criticises Turkey for deterioration of human rights

‘Islamic State’ gives Jordan 24 hours before execution of hostages

Ex-Shebab chief urges others to surrender in first public appearance

Bomb kills and wounds three terrorists in Egypt's Alexandria