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Iraq PM blamed for sectarian tensions, ISIS crisis as US weighs options

By Supriya Jha | Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 17:01

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

Washington: As the Sunni militants of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) continue their advance in Iraq, a bunch of US Senators have blamed PM Nuri al- Maliki for worsening the sectarian divide in the country and demanded that he must quit.

Speaking to a Congressional hearing committee, US Army Gen Martin E Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff blamed Maliki for failing to stem the sectarian tension in the country.

“There is very little that — that could have been done to overcome the degree to which the government of Iraq had failed its people. That’s what has caused this problem,” Dempsey said. “This has not broken down entirely on sectarian lines, but it could.”

Also Read: `Launching US air strikes in Iraq not as easy as it looks in iPhone video`

Dempsey`s remarks came after Iraq formally requested the US for air strikes on ISIS rebels as they hit the oil refinery in Baiji.

Also, Republican Senator John McCain, while favouring the use of US air power against the ISIS in Iraq, wanted Obama to “make it make very clear to Maliki that his time is up.”

Another Senator, Dianne Feinstein, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, too said that for any reconciliation, the Shiite PM Maliki should quit.

Maliki has also been blamed by its Sunni neighbours for marginalising the Sunnis, fuelling the sectarian tensions among them, which further acted as a food for Qaeda inspired insurgents.

The chorus of criticism against Maliki has gained strength as President Obama is weighing options as to how to form a strategy on Iraq.

While Obama has stated that he won`t need a yes from Congressional leaders before deciding any action against Iraq, however, the officials said that the main focus would be on urging Iraq`s leaders to set aside "sectarian agenda" and to come together with a sense of national unity. 

According to the Wall street Journal, the Obama administration is convinced that PM Maliki is unable to reconcile with the Sunni minority and hence a new inclusive government must come up in Iraq.

The report added that such a new government would include the country`s Sunni and Kurdish communities and could help to stem Sunni support for the al Qaeda offshoot.

The White House also said that PM had not done enough to govern inclusively, leading to the current crisis in Iraq.

"There`s no question that not enough has been done by the government, including the prime minister, to govern inclusively, and that that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq," the WSJ quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"The Iraqi people will have to decide the makeup of the next coalition government and who is the prime minister," he added.

"Whether it`s the current prime minister or another leader, we will aggressively attempt to impress upon that leader the absolute necessity of rejecting sectarian governance."

First Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 12:11
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