With a sectarian civil war seemingly having restarted in Iraq, Obama Administration officials say they are “actively engaged” in talks with the Maliki government and other Iraqi officials in an attempt to kick-start new talks.
The current violence stems in part from a US-imposed deal after the 2010 elections, which kept Maliki in power despite his party’s loss in return for generous power-sharing across the coalition. Years later the power-sharing still isn’t being followed through on, and Maliki has alienated virtually every other religious and ethnic faction in his attempts to centralize power.
Nowhere has this been more dramatic than with the nation’s Sunni Arabs, who have been protesting for months at their mistreatment. Those protests came to a head in Hawija last month, when Iraqi troops attacked protesters, killing dozens.
Since then sectarian violence has killed many hundreds of Iraqis, and brought death tolls back to the levels of the bad-old-days during the US occupation. US officials are reportedly pressing the leaders of the various political factions to get together for new negotiations.
Yet for many of the political rank-and-file, the 2010 deal and the Maliki government’s failure to honor it is going to be a huge stumbling block, and mistrust is only going to grow worse amid violence that is coming both from within and from spillover groups in neighboring Syria.