Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

China censors Hong Kong protests on social media

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Islamic State group crackdown

Read more

DEBATE

Modi in America: India's Prime Minister on Triumphant US Tour

Read more

DEBATE

Hong Kong Protests: Pro-democracy Movement Gets Global Support

Read more

ENCORE!

Encore's Music Show: Prince goes funk, rock and sci-fi

Read more

FOCUS

Egypt's push against atheism and 'non-believers'

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dealing with jihadism: Does Europe have a plan?

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Colombian villagers caught between soldiers and guerrilla fighters, and a pilot whale massacre in the Faroe islands

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-01-10

Iraq on its own

In December 2011, the last G.I. left Iraq, ending nine years of occupation. The Americans leave behind them a profoundly divided country, beset by violence and in the grip of a political crisis. Our reporters went to meet the Shiites and Sunnis to guage the tension between the two communities.

One hundred and fifty seven US troops now remain in Iraq. Initially both the American and Iraqi governments wanted US instructors to stay until 2014 and oversee the training of the countries’ security forces, but they couldn’t agree on their legal status. NATO wanted immunity for its personnel, Nuri al-Maliki’s government refused. The American page is definitely turned in Iraq. Now the time for a full-blown political crisis has come.

Blocked institutions

Tension is high between the Shiite government led by Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqiya bloc, the secular opposition, supported by the Sunnis, which accuses the Prime Minister of monopolising power and is now boycotting parliament.

The pressure rose a notch just forty-eight hours after the US withdrawal. The interior minister called for a press conference during which he announced that an arrest warrant had been issued against the Iraqi vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, a Sunni. The government says it has evidence he plotted terrorist acts. Several people described as members of his security forces appeared before the press, and gave detailed confessions about bombings and assassinations they allegedly committed on behalf of their boss. Tareq al-Hashemi is currently in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Whether this episode is a political manoeuvre or is based on genuine investigations, it speaks volumes about the political state of Iraq. It also makes any negotiations to end the crisis that much more difficult.

A country on the verge of breaking up

In the provinces of the Sunni triangle, the governors feel increasingly marginalised. According to them, the central government deliberately blocks their decisions, and denies them posts in Baghdad. On October 27th, Salah el-Din was the first of the three Sunni regions to declare its autonomy, soon followed by Diyala. The Shiite government immediately turned down these bids for autonomy.

The entourage of Nuri al-Maliki said the Sunni governors were conspiring against the government, breaking up the country, and creating a heaven for former Baathists and insurgents.

The political crisis and the bid for autonomy by Sunni provinces are causing tensions to flare between the Shiite and Sunni communities. Each side has its militia and is ready to fight - an explosive situation that could plunge Iraq into a violent sectarian war.

By James ANDRE , Chady CHLELA

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2014-09-26 Russia

Video: Crimea's 'Russification' in full swing

Changing nationalities isn’t always easy. Six months ago, in Crimea, people voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, in a referendum that Western powers deemed illegal. Now, the...

Read more

2014-09-19 Algeria

From Sarajevo to Guantanamo, the journey of the Algerian Six

The day after the 9/11 attacks, six Algerian nationals were arrested in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They were accused of being terrorists and plotting fresh attacks against the United...

Read more

2014-09-12 referendum

Scotland: On the path to independence?

On September 18, Scotland votes in a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. A "Yes" at the ballot box would mean the end of a union that’s lasted over 300 years and...

Read more

2014-09-05 Iraq

Kurdish fighters on the front line against IS militants

Even as Western powers struggle to put together a coalition to tackle the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS or ISIS), Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq have been battling for...

Read more

2013-05-03 Pakistan

Pakistan: Imran Khan, from the cricket field to politics

When Pakistanis go to the polls to choose a new prime minister on May 11th, one candidate could seriously shake up the race. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who led the...

Read more