Secular Iraqi Dissidents Form New Opposition Party

Maliki's consolidation of power is pushing opposition groups to consider breaking off and creating their own autonomous state

A coalition of political dissidents in Iraq created a new opposition party Saturday, in an attempt to check the power of the central government as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki consolidates dictatorial rule.

The Union of Patriotic Figures, as it will be called, described by the new members as a secular political group of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. It currently includes about 45 people from 27 different political parties.

“We will be an opposition to monitor both the government and the parliament,” said Mishaan al-Saadi, who unsuccessfully ran for election to parliament in 2010.

Since the departure of U.S. troops from Iraq in December, Maliki has wielded inordinate power. He has betrayed an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize his Sunni rivals and his security forces have detained and brutally tortured more than 1,000 political opponents in secret prisons and denied them access to legal counsel in an attempt to get them to give false testimony against his political opponents.

Indeed, some of the confessions obtained through torture in the last few months have been the basis for trying to detain Maliki’s Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on trumped up terrorism charges.

Many Sunnis are threatening to separate from the central Shiite-led government and establish their own autonomous state within Iraq. Maliki has warned that would tear the country apart, cripple essential government services, and potential incite more violence.

But what’s doing all of those things is Maliki’s corrupt government and dictatorial power grabs. The move to break away from the central government is merely the reaction to this political crisis, and the Union of Patriotic Figures may only be the beginning.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.