Iraqiya Bloc Walks Out on Iraqi Parliament Over Gov’t Mismanagement, Sunni Arrests and Autonomy Bids

Saturday: 5 Iraqis Killed, 4 Wounded

by , December 17, 2011

The Iraqiya political bloc boycotted parliament today over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s failure to properly share power and the arrests of hundreds of Sunni Iraqiya supporters in a crackdown against alleged Ba’ath Party members. Meanwhile, at least five Iraqis were killed and four more were wounded in light violence.

During a meeting last night, the Iraqi block decided to suspend its participation in parliament to protest the prime minister’s management of the country. They and others say Maliki is "dictator," trying to consolidate power despite a power-sharing deal agreed to last year. Iraqiya won 2010’s national elections by just two seats over Maliki’ State of Law party, but it was not enough to install their own prime minister. Months of political brokering took place before Maliki eventually emerged triumphant. The premier, however, agreed to several concessions that he failed to keep. Of particular worry is his "temporary" chairing of several ministerial posts. Also, despite promising to not run for a third term, his subordinates have already claimed a right for him to run again.

Furthermore, the Maliki government recently arrested hundreds of Sunnis under the guise of a Ba’ath Party threat that few believe exists. That triggered several new bids for semi-autonomy status from at least two Sunni provinces and an ethnic group. Basra province, which has long sought the change, has been warned to stop its attempt.

The most recent call for a change in region status came from Diyala province, where the local government has long had a contentious relationship with the federal government. Although the bids for semi-autonomy are constitutional, Baghdad does not want to lose any regional power. One of Iraqiya’s demands is for Baghdad to honor this bid. Iraqiya Spokesman Haider al-Mulla said the province was "suffering from a disaster, due to the movement of militias against it, with the knowledge of the Central Government in Baghdad."

One Iraqiya member who lives in the town of Khalis, which has rejected the bid and says it will secede and join Baghdad province if the change in status takes place, has been personally threatened by these militias. Suhad Hayali says she has relocated to Baquba temporarily after receiving threats that her home will be burned down if she continues her support for the bid.

Iraqiya, which has staged walkouts before, does remain open to round-table discussions to resolve the crisis.

In violence unrelated to the boycott or bid for region status, at least five Iraqis were killed and four more were wounded across the country.

Three people were killed and two more were wounded in a blast targeting a minibus in Abu Ghraib.

A thermal bomb killed one policeman and wounded a second in Yathrib.

In Baghdad, a judge was shot dead as he drove through the Jamiaa district.

A bomb attached to a car in Baquba severely wounded the driver when it exploded.

Read more by Margaret Griffis