Iraq’s Sunni finance minister escapes from roadside bomb
BAGHDADIraqi Finance Minister Rafie al-Esawi, a prominent Sunni Muslim politician, escaped unharmed when a roadside bomb exploded near his car and wounded two of his security guards, his office and a health official said yesterday.
Esawi is one of the leaders of the Sunni-supported, cross-sectarian Iraqiya political bloc, ensnared in a crisis triggered when Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sought the arrest of a Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi and the ouster of his own deputy, another prominent Sunni, last month.
Esawi was in a convoy of vehicles heading to Baghdad on Jan. 1 when a bomb exploded in the town of Ishaqi, 100 kilometers north of the capital, said Zaid Mohammed, the finance ministry’s media manager. Esawi was named along with Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi as co-author of an editorial in the New York Times last week that said Iraq was headed towards a “sectarian autocracy that carries with it the threat of devastating civil war.” Parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi meanwhile slammed the human rights situation in Iraq, arguing that “massive” violations were destroying its democracy. Al-Nujaifi said that targeting the innocent, the use of violence against individuals and their property, and random arrests were all signs of poor human rights in Iraq, and called for the government to stop blocking provincial bids for increased autonomy from Baghdad.
Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.