Feature

Sunni rage in Iraq

A new wave of violence erupted in Iraq over the death sentence given to Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, one of the country’s most senior Sunni politicians.

Iraq’s deepening political crisis sparked a new wave of violence this week, after one of the country’s most senior Sunni politicians, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, was sentenced to death in absentia on what he called politically motivated terror charges. Al-Hashemi, who fled to Turkey earlier this year, was found guilty of overseeing death squads that targeted Shiite political opponents. Al-Hashemi said that the charges were concocted by his rival, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and that the “kangaroo court’s” verdict was predetermined. Underscoring Iraq’s continued instability, a wave of bombings and insurgent attacks tore through mostly Shiite neighborhoods in more than a dozen cities the day the verdict was announced, killing at least 100 people. 

“It is hard to weigh the merits” of this politically charged case from a distance, said The New York Times in an editorial, but al-Maliki’s “blatant attempts to monopolize power” are reason enough to be suspicious. Since U.S. troops departed in December, the prime minister “has shown more interest in reprisals against the Sunni minority” than in binding the war-ravaged country together. 

Al-Maliki is on a clear path to becoming “Iraq’s next dictator,” said The Guardian (U.K.). He has ruthlessly consolidated control of the country’s security forces for his own ends, and exerted increasing influence over the intelligence services and judiciary. Having sidelined Sunnis, his “next target will be the Kurds.” Al-Maliki’s “quest for domination could drive his country back into civil war.”  

Equally troubling are al-Maliki’s deepening ties to the Shiite regime in Iran, said Tony Karon in Time.com. In July, Iraq granted Iran use of its airspace to resupply President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, despite the angry objections of the White House. It’s surely “one of the great strategic ironies of the 21st century” that the Iraq War, which cost the U.S. so dearly in blood and treasure, ended up producing an Iraqi regime “closer to Iran than it is to the U.S.”

Recommended

Is China going to fry the global climate?
Xi Jinping.
Picture of Ryan CooperRyan Cooper

Is China going to fry the global climate?

Volunteers are writing and illustrating free books to help South African kids with reading
South African children read their books from Book Dash.
reading is fundamental

Volunteers are writing and illustrating free books to help South African kids with reading

Within 7 days, Bhutan fully vaccinates 90 percent of eligible adults
A man in Bhutan receives a COVID-19 vaccine.
success story

Within 7 days, Bhutan fully vaccinates 90 percent of eligible adults

10 things you need to know today: July 27, 2021
Biden and the Iraqi prime minister
Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 27, 2021

Most Popular

CNN airs threatening voicemail D.C. officer received during Jan. 6 testimony
Officer Michael Fanone.
Capitol riot aftermath

CNN airs threatening voicemail D.C. officer received during Jan. 6 testimony

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?
Tom Brady, Joe Biden
Quotables

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?

Why some critics think the CDC's messaging on masking is 'astonishingly bad'
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
the coronavirus crisis

Why some critics think the CDC's messaging on masking is 'astonishingly bad'