This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 8 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020
Advertisement

Iraqi government calls for arrest of its own vice-president

The Shia-dominated government has accused a Sunni vice-president of running a hit squad assassinating senior officials.

Tariq al-Hashemi pictured in 2009
Tariq al-Hashemi pictured in 2009
Image: Karim Kadim/AP/Press Association Images

IRAQ’S SHIA-LED government has issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president, accusing him of running a hit squad that assassinated government and security officials.

The extraordinary charges come a day after the last U.S. troops left the country.

The vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, left Baghdad on Sunday for the semiautonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan, presumably hoping that Kurdish authorities would not turn him in. Investigative judges banned him the same day from traveling outside of Iraq.

The move against the country’s highest-ranking Sunni official marked a sharp escalation in sectarian tensions, raising fears of a resurgence of large-scale bloodshed. Although many Iraqis welcomed the American withdrawal, ending the nine-year US war, there are also considerable fears here that violence will worsen.

“Iraq is slipping into its worst nightmares now, and Iraqi people will pay a high price because of the struggle among political blocs after the pullout of US troops,” said Baghdad-based political analyst Kadhum al-Muqdadi, a Shia.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration had expressed its concerns to all of the parties involved regarding the issuing of the warrant.

‘$3,000 for each attack’

“We are urging all sides to work to resolve differences peacefully and through dialogue in a manner consistent with the rule of law and the democratic political process,” Carney said.

Sunnis suspected the charges against al-Hashemi were politically motivated. Al-Hashemi is an old rival of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and the arrest order came two days after the main Sunni-backed political bloc, Iraqiya, suspended its participation in parliament because al-Maliki refused to give up control over key posts.

State-run television aired what it characterised as confessions by men said to be working as bodyguards for al-Hashemi. The men said they killed officials working in Health and Foreign Ministries as well as Baghdad police officers, and that they received $3,000 from al-Hashemi for each attack.

“An arrest warrant has been issued against Vice President al-Hashemi under the terrorism law and five judges have signed this warrant,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Adil Daham said as he waved a copy of the order.

Al-Hashemi, one of two vice presidents in Iraq, could not be reached for comment.

More: Elation as final US troops roll out of Iraq>

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Associated Press

Read next:

COMMENTS (13)