Sectarian bombings and gunfire continued today across Iraq, with a spike in deaths in April giving way to even worse violence in May, and signs that another sectarian civil war may have already begun. But as many officials scramble to try to tamp down the rising tensions, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki remains defiant.
Maliki insisted that the cabinet is “united” on the matter and that the government will continue its crackdown on “outlaws,” adding that the military will “hunt down” all those involved in the fighting.
Lost in Maliki’s comments is the fact that the latest round of blood-letting, which has killed nearly 1,000 Iraqis in the past month and a half, came as a direct result of the first of his policy of crackdowns, when troops moved against Sunni protesters in Hawijah.
That attack blew the long-standing Sunni resentment over Maliki reneging on power-sharing deals wide open, and led Sunni government ministers to resign in protest. Since then, the protests have continued to grow, and Sunni militias have found disaffected protesters a fertile ground for recruitment, with many convinced that they have no future in a Maliki-run Iraq. Religious and political leaders have tried to keep the unrest as peaceful as possible, but as Maliki continues the policies at the center of the problem, that seems increasingly difficult to maintain.