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.

 

Desperation hangs over Syria meeting in Paris

Turkey submits bill to expand powers of Erdogan

CIA concludes Russia worked to help Trump win election

OPEC seeks output cuts from non-members

Performance of American comic cancelled in Saudi Arabia

Tamurt info: Polisario leader ‘most wanted man in Spain’

HSF denounces Algeria’s migrant expulsion as “shame for Africa”

Suicide bomber hits military camp in Yemen

US-backed alliance announces 'phase two' of Raqa campaign

Kuwait PM forms new cabinet after elections

Pentagon expands US footprint in Syria

OPEC to push for non-member oil cuts

Recaptured IS Libya bastion riddled with mines

Civilians caught in middle of Aleppo maelstrom

US-led coalition air strike destroys 168 IS oil tankers

European rights body says Turkey violated own constitution

Turkey to submit bill expanding Erdogan powers Saturday

Morocco acquits gay teenage girls

Regime air strikes resume on east Aleppo after 'pause'

Erdogan urges Turks to step up efforts to boost lira

IS kills 49 Syrian army members near Palmyra

UN says hundreds of Aleppo escapees missing, rebels block others from leaving

Egyptian ‘world’s heaviest woman’ to have surgery in India

Israeli army admits Hezbollah map just ‘illustration’

Saudi soldier killed by landmine near Yemen border

Shadow of executed Shiite cleric looms in Saudi hometown

Russia vows no let-up in Aleppo assault while 'bandits' remain

US approves $7 billion in arms deals to Arab allies

400 migrants storm Spanish enclave border

IS claims Egypt cleric murders, threatens Sufis

Six killed in Egypt bomb blast

UN Syria envoy planning to meet Trump team

US says 50,000 IS jihadists killed in Iraq, Syria since 2014

Israel arrests alleged Hamas kidnap plotters

Greek court rejects extraditing last two Turkish 'coup' officers

Russian student faces jail after following IS lover to Syria

Yazidi leader calls on international community to help

UN reiterates fears for Aleppo children

Libya finds 266 IS bodies in former jihadist bastion Sirte

Turkey targets German diplomats at airports in revenge move

Aleppo White Helmets call for safe passage

Germany seeks to conclude training deal with Saudi

Egypt arrests son of former Islamist president

Israel joins forces with Greece, Cyprus to fight fire

Erdogan advisor says foreign TV chefs are spies