The endless cycle of violence in Iraq continues remorselessly. Over the Eid weekend, more than 60 people were killed in a series of murderous attacks in mostly Shiite neighbourhoods. As the death toll climbs up to levels not seen for more than five years, Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s government is doing far too little to stop the crisis.
Most of the violence in the past six months has involved Sunni Islamist militant groups targeting Shiite Muslim districts, even though both Shiite and Sunni areas were hit last weekend.
The increasingly violent Sunni insurgency led by Al Qaida’s affiliate in Iraq sees a great advantage in challenging the government’s authority, and it is happy to foment civil distrust and hatred from which it will take advantage.
It is a matter of great concern that the Al Qaida leader in Iraqi, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, is now based in Syria. He clearly sees an advantage in mixing the on-going civil war in Syria with the simmering domestic tension in Iraq.
Al Maliki should take a more decisive stand to stop the spiralling violence. This has to be a combination of tougher security measures and more inclusive politics. It is a matter of regret that he has adopted more overtly pro-Shiite policies. Iraq does not need a sectarian approach to its problems, the government should look at the country as a whole and re-establish the confidence of the entire people, whether they are Sunni or Shiite.
Iraq has already lost Kurdistan which has carved out so much autonomy that it is virtually independent, even if the Iraqi politicians and the Kurds are careful not to say so.
There is a real danger that the present violence might become endemic if it is ignored for too long. It would be a tragedy if Al Maliki’s lack of action leads him to preside over the further break-up of a great Arab nation.
To avoid this, his government needs to become more accessible to Sunnis and Shiites alike.