Shi’ite-Led Govt. Still Targeting Rivals, Even As Cabinet Drops Boycott

The Shi’ite-led government in Iraq has selected new targets for harassment: Iraqiya spokesman Haider al-Mulla and two other lawmakers. This comes despite recent efforts by Iraqiya to lessen political tensions that threaten to ignite a sectarian war. Meanwhile, at least two Iraqis were killed and 26 more were wounded over the last two days.

An Iraqiya lawmaker, Haidar al-Mulla, says he was informed of a request to have his immunity as a member of parliament dropped so that prosecutors can try him on charges of insulting the judiciary. Two other lawmakers also face arrest.

Because he is also a spokesman for the party, Mulla has been quite vocal in his criticism of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, especially since the latest political tensions began in December. He has previously gone as far as to call for withdrawing confidence from the premier and searching for a new leader. This may be the reason he is being targeted now. In 2010, Mulla also claimed to have received death threats from Maliki’s staff.

In December, Iraqiya began a boycott of the parliament and cabinet to protest the prime minister’s mismanagement of government, his attempts to quash provincial autonomy bids, and the arrests of hundreds of Sunnis. The party says that 89 of its members were among those detained in the last three months alone. The lawmakers returned to parliament last week in a gesture of goodwill to try to end the squabble. The cabinet ministers voted to end their walkout only yesterday.

The top Sunni politician, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was also charged with ties to terrorism then, but he was able to flee to the relative safety of Iraqi Kurdistan before Maliki’s forces could capture him. Dozens of his bodyguards and staffers were not so lucky. Hashemi insists that the charges are false and would like to prove that in court. However, he feels that Maliki has corrupted the Iraqi judiciary, and so he cannot get a fair trial in Baghdad. He is willing to return, however, if Maliki resigns his post.

Not all of Maliki’s political rivals have been arrested or charged with crimes yet. His deputy prime minister, Saleh al-Mutlaq was targeted for dismissal, but the parliament did not approve the firing. Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi was accused of ties to al-Qaeda but has not been arrested so far. Instead, a bomb blasted his convoy and wounded two bodyguards.

A triple bombing in Balad Ruz killed one and wounded 13 others at a complex housing displaced Kurds.

In Baghdad, gunmen killed an Interior Ministry official.

In Mosul, three people were wounded in a bomb blast.

A roadside bomb exploded in Ishaqi and wounded two policemen. Two more blasts wounded three first responders.

Three people were wounded outside a Mahmoudiya shop.

A sticky bomb blast in Jalawla wounded a police colonel.

A roadside bomb injured a man in Abu Saida.

A kidnapping victim was liberated in Basra.

Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for since 2006.