Bloody Crackdown Sparks Fear of New Iraqi Sunni Revolt

Deputy PM, Last Sunni Arab in Govt, Tenders Resignation

Iraqis are still reeling after yesterday’s bloody crackdown on protesters in Hawija, with the Maliki government insisting the deaths were the fault of “militants” within the protest and demonstrators saying the troops were firing at random at people inside the camp. All told, at least 36 were slain and over 100 wounded.

The kills have sparked fury among Sunni Arabs, whose several months of peaceful protests have been met with only minor reforms, and now suddenly an attempt to shut them down through force of arms. There is concern this could spark an outright revolt among Sunni Arabs, who see little left to lose.

And just one day after the last two Sunni Arabs with cabinet portfolios resigned, the last cabinet member at all, Vice Premier Saleh al-Mutlaq, has tendered his resignation as well. The only remaining Sunni Arab in the government at all, nominally, is Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, but he’s in exile and has been ordered executed if he returns to Iraq.

Iraqiya, the secular party Mutlaq is a member of, has rejected his offer to resign right now, saying that they want him to spearhead an investigation of the Hawija killings first, and that Iraqiya may resign en masse if the prosecution doesn’t move on it.

Since Iraqiya is the largest bloc in parliament, they could put major pressure on the Maliki government to hold early elections, especially with the Kurdish blocs already poised to drop out and the Sadrist Trend not keen on Maliki either.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.