Maliki Slams Calls for Unity Government as ‘Rebellion’

Insists Opposition Must Unify Behind His Continued Rule

In a new speech, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki angrily rejected pressure to step down in favor of a new unity government, accusing those who were calling for it of a “rebellion against the constitution.”

Since the fall of Mosul and the takeover of much of the rest of the Sunni Arab portion of the country by ISIS, Maliki has been under growing pressure to resign, with the US in particular pushing for a new government that could court Sunni Arabs and Kurds after years of bristling under Maliki’s rule.

Maliki, however, saw recent calls by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani for unity, which everyone else interpreted as backing for a post-Maliki government, as a call for everyone to simply get unified behind his continued rule.

A post-Maliki government, if indeed one happens at all, isn’t likely to be much more friendly to Sunnis or Kurds, as the primary candidate hinted as the US favorite has been Ahmed Chalabi, whose years running the De-Baathification system have made him a lot of enemies among Sunni politicians, most of whom he’s tried to ban from office at one point or another.

Ironically unity might’ve been easier in 2010, when the secular Iraqiya Party won the election, but the US backed another term for Maliki in the hopes he would be more friendly to continuing the occupation. Iraqiya is much smaller this time around, as their big power base, the Anbar Province, largely didn’t get to vote in this year’s election, as it was under ISIS control.

The US shrugged off Maliki’s comments, insisting they believe he is still open to the “process” by which he will be removed from power.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.