With Iraq in the early stages of another bloody sectarian war, the Sunni rebels and the Shi’ite clergy are at odds about almost everything. There is common ground on the issue of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, however, he has to go.
The US made clear their opposition to Maliki earlier this week, and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the religious leader for Iraq’s Shi’ite majority, seems to concur, with his statement during Friday prayers calling for Maliki’s replacement with a new “effective” government that includes Sunni Arabs and Kurds.
The Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI), one of the Sunni rebel factions fighting alongside ISIS, is also in agreement on that issue, warning his faction will attack Baghdad if Maliki isn’t replaced, and suggesting there was room for a settlement of the conflict along the lines of three autonomous regions so long as Maliki is gone.
Sunni factions in northern Baghdad are pretty concerned about the status quo as well, seeing the growing sectarian tension as putting them in considerable danger, since they are still outside of ISIS territory and a prime target for local Shi’ite militias.
Ultimately, the war seems to be heading toward furthering the “sectarian cleansing” of regions that began during the US occupation, with the minority sect chased out of ISIS and the Iraqi government’s respective regions, though even within what remains of Shi’ite Iraq Maliki’s position is greatly weakened, and he seems likely to be ousted soon.
Who will replace Maliki is anyone’s guess, but the US is pushing hard for their old friend Ahmed Chalabi, who was a major architect of the 2003 US invasion and occupation. Reports have suggested that in addition to Chalabi, two members of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council are also getting some support for the new prime minister.