Impatience Grows Among Iraq’s Sunni Protesters

Leaders Call for Reforms, Threaten to Push for New Elections

by Jason Ditz, February 19, 2013

Sunni protesters have endured in Iraq for many weeks now of near-daily demonstrations across the Western part of the nation. The mood is one of increasing impatience, however, as protest leaders seek actual reforms instead of vague promises.

The Maliki government has repeatedly claimed it is “considering” the protesters demands, but its only visible actions have been military moves to stall protests and public threats against the protesters.

Leaders say if there is not action soon they will hold a full scale march on Baghdad, aimed at grinding government operations to a halt and forcing parliament to follow through on calls for early elections.

But the Maliki government has regularly accused the protesters of being in league with Sunni terrorists, and is likely to spin efforts to force new elections (an unconstitutional demand, according to them) as a threat to public order justifying a new crackdown.

The current coalition government was pushed by the US ahead of its pullout, a broad collection with Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Maliki’s Shi’ite party and Moqtada al-Sadr’s Shi’ite party all included. Maliki’s centralization, and his refusal to follow through on power-sharing pledges, have left not just Kurds and Sunnis, but increasingly the Sadrist Trend, dissatisfied with the deal and eager to try their luck at a new vote.

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