Maliki Urges Calm, But Vows Military Operations Against Sunnis

Top Sunni Cleric Urges Followers to Leave Army

With a sectarian civil war seemingly on the horizon in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called for calm, but also promised military operations against Sunni towns, insisting they “must impose security” across Iraq.

“What happened in Hawija, and what is happening today in Sulaiman Bek and other places, is a point in which we should stop and think because it might lead to sectarian strife,” Maliki said, though with hundreds already dead, it seems sectarian strife is no longer just a possibility but a reality, and the real question is how bad it will get.

Sheik Abdulmalik al-Saadi, a top Sunni cleric in the nation, has been backing the protests for quite some time, but seemed to take it a step further today in comments, urging his followers to leave the Iraqi Army and join the opposition “as their brothers did in Syria.”

Saadi urged restraint so long as the military wasn’t confronting them “but if they open fire, then burn the land beneath them and defend yourself.” Given the sheer size of the sectarian civil war in neighboring Syria, the prospect of yet another war breaking out in Iraq is a scary one indeed.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.