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.

 

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Key oil producers face uncertain outlook in 2015

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator

Saudi cleric sparks uproar for showing wife’s face

15,000 march against country’s ‘Islamisation’ in eastern Germany

Gulf stock markets tumble

Australia mourns Sydney cafe siege victims

Hostages flee as police storm Sydney café

Erdogan to EU: Mind your own business!

Syria PM in Iran for talks with key ally

22 Swiss jihadists fighting abroad

#illridewithyou: Australians stand in solidarity with Muslims

Sydney siege 'lone wolf' or IS-led attack?

EU support UN efforts for Aleppo ceasefire

Saudi policeman killed in Riyadh hostage-taking

Saudi king receives Jordan monarch

Palestinians push UN bid to end Israeli occupation

Hostages held in Sydney cafe, Islamic flag held up

Hamas stages show of strength to mark 27th anniversary

France 'neutralised' 200 jihadists in Sahel region of West Africa

Kerry in Rome ahead of Palestinian push at UN

Drive-by shooting kills two Egypt policemen in Sinai Peninsula

Libya pro-government forces push back Islamist fighters

Wave of arrests targets Gulen supporters in Turkey

Security Council fails and Bashir declares victory!

UAE calls on Arabs to invest in future amid ‘rapid changes’

Dawn collision kills more than 10 Egypt fishermen in Gulf of Suez

ICC prosecutor suspends investigations into Darfur war crimes

Libya Islamists form new coalition ahead of expected assault

Sudan minister announces new army offensive against rebels

Yemen troops kill five Qaeda suspects disguised as women

Sea of devotees descends on Karbala in defiance of jihadist threats

Palestinian shot after throwing acid at Israeli family

Saudi to build Africa’s tallest building in Morocco