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MIDEAST > Iraq is now orphaned: Shiite cleric

ARBIL / BAGHDAD

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Protesters chant slogans against Iraq’s Shiite-led government. Iraqi Shiite leader al-Sadr has advised the PM to directly meet with protesters. AP photo

Protesters chant slogans against Iraq’s Shiite-led government. Iraqi Shiite leader al-Sadr has advised the PM to directly meet with protesters. AP photo

Iraq has been left much like a fatherless orphan because it has been deprived of a president capable of listening to problems and conducting mediation, one of the country’s top Shiite leaders said yesterday.

“If the problem of the presidency is not resolved, the dictatorship will spread to the presidency from the prime ministry, and this would make the situation worse and more problematic. Iraq is like a son without a father because it does not have its president who deals with problems and mediates,” influential Shiite figure Muqtada al-Sadr said in reference to the absence of President Jalal Talabani, who suffered a stroke last month and was flown to Germany for treatment.

His ailing health has raised concerns about his political future while also tipping off a new crisis in Iraq. The crisis has been worsened by weeks of demonstrations against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s rule in mostly-Sunni areas, with protesters alleging that the premier has misused anti-terror laws to wrongfully detain members of their community.

Al-Maliki has threatened to direct security forces to intervene in the protests, which were sparked by the Dec. 20, 2012, arrest of at least nine guards of Sunni Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi.

Meanwhile, Iraq has freed 335 inmates in the past week, a top minister said yesterday while apologizing to detainees held without charge, part of efforts to curb weeks of rallies. Justice Ministry officials released 178 inmates yesterday, spokesman Haidar al-Saadi said, bringing to 335 the number of detainees freed in the past week, according to Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani.

“I apologize in the name of the Iraqi state for any of you who were arrested and kept for this period of time, and it seems later that you are innocent,” Shahristani said. Amid the ongoing crisis, al-Essawi escaped an apparent assassination attempt on Jan. 13 when his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb. The minister’s convoy had been traveling between the towns of Fallujah and Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, when the bomb went off, two security officials said. No one in al-Essawi’s entourage was harmed, but some of the vehicles were damaged, the officials said.

January/15/2013

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ilker avni

1/15/2013 4:41:17 PM

Its very clear that Iraq is heading for dictatorship,maybe Iraq has to be governed by dictatorship,because its very hard to keep a lid on on all the factions in |Iraq.Its allso very interesting on who runs the military,or later on maybe a military general might declare himself president another Saddam could rise up and save Iraq from breakup,where its heading right now is a possiable breakup.and a civil war just like Syria.

mara mcglothin

1/15/2013 4:10:10 PM

Why is anybody surprised about the chaos we now refer to as Iraq. There will be fighting amongst the people for many years to come.

rich bind

1/15/2013 7:30:59 AM

Sounds a lot like Turkey, where suspects linger inside prison for years and then are let go, for lack of evidence.

Dennis Kavaz

1/15/2013 7:09:48 AM

It’s ironic the very thing (Religion) which drives the tree (Shiite, Sunnis, and Kurds) Iraqis factions to keel each other, a man of “GOD” a Cleric is broadcasting via the international Media that Iraq is en orphan. If an advised was asked from the cleric he has the right to give an opinion; nevertheless his aim and mind should be on theology and not on Politicks.

David Cuthell

1/15/2013 4:46:21 AM

Why should this come as a surprise to anyone? At least the Ottomans knew that there were three Iraqs, Basra, Baghdad and Mosul. Funny how that division persists today. Admit that there are three Iraqs and negotiate a loose framework of governance.
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