Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Trump and Macron media moments

Read more

ENCORE!

Photographer Clare Strand explores the causes and consequences of communication breakdown

Read more

IN THE PRESS

Fashion and ethics: Five years after Bangladesh factory collapse, what's changed?

Read more

FOCUS

Israel’s migrant crisis: Clear government signals, but unclear decisions

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

Plastic waste: ‘We can only tackle the problem if we work together’

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Louis XIV's message for the British royal baby

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Zimbabwean nurses call off strike and return to work

Read more

THE DEBATE

Macron meets Trump: A state visit with discord on the horizon?

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Macron hopes for breakthrough on trade tensions during US visit

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

2018-04-20 Africa

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Every year, China slaughters millions of donkeys to make Ejiao, a traditional medicine hailed as a ‘miracle elixir’ which is used to treat various ailments. As China’s donkey...

Read more

2018-04-13 Americas

From Brazil to Canada: the new odyssey for African migrants

Canada has become the new El Dorado for many African migrants, who have seen Europe and the United States close their borders. But they face a dangerous journey across South and...

Read more

2018-04-06 Africa

Video: Mauritanian Sahara delights tourists again after years blighted by terror

After years blighted by terror attacks, tourists are beginning to return to Mauritania. Charter flights between Paris and the Mauritanian Sahara resumed in December 2017....

Read more

2018-03-30 Middle East

Video: Fighting for survival in war-torn Yemen

Since 2015, Yemen has been locked in a civil war in which Saudi Arabia – a supporter of Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi-- has led a Sunni coalition against Houthi...

Read more

2018-03-23 terrorism

Inside the Kurdish courts trying IS group militants

The long and gruesome war that the Kurds have waged against the Islamic State (IS) group has not only left thousands dead but also produced many prisoners. For the first time, a...

Read more