Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

YOU ARE HERE

The legendary Swallow Line train in France's Jura region

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Japanese FM against 'dialogue for the sake of dialogue' with Pyongyang

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive video: South Sudan, a cursed land

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Ex-minister Tzipi Livni calls for freeze on Israeli settlements

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Net neutrality fight in US moves to courts, Congress

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

US decides to 'let corporate greed run the internet'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Marine Le Pen's former right-hand man plans his political rebirth

Read more

THE DEBATE

May overruled: Brexit momentum thwarted by Tory rebellion

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Somalia's Shabaab kill 18 policemen in academy bombing

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

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

2017-12-15 Africa

Exclusive video: South Sudan, a cursed land

For the past four years South Sudan has been torn apart by civil war – and the situation in the country is desperate. Famine rages across all conflict zones and the first victims...

Read more

2017-12-08 Libya

Video: Trapped in Libya, migrants face torture and slavery

In the past few months, the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean has shrunk drastically on the back of new migrant policies in Libya and Italy alike. Instead,...

Read more

2017-11-30 Americas

Video: Barbuda, an island paradise wiped out by Hurricane Irma

Three months ago, life on the Caribbean island of Barbuda, in the French West Indies, morphed into nothing short of a nightmare as Hurricane Irma swept in over its shores,...

Read more

2017-11-24 Americas

Video: Is Trump slamming door on Muslims' American Dream?

Since US President Donald Trump came to power, Muslim Americans say they feel increasingly unwelcome in their own country. According to critics, Trump’s executive orders banning...

Read more

2017-11-17 Middle East

Exclusive: From Tehran to Najaf, a pilgrimage fraught with danger

It’s one of the most dangerous pilgrimages in the world. Every year, despite the deadly menace of the Islamic State group, millions of Shiites make a pilgrimage to southern Iraq,...

Read more