News / Middle East

    Iraqi PM Appeals for Calm as Protests Continue

    Residents carry a coffin during the funeral of an Iraqi soldier in Baghdad, April 25, 2013.Residents carry a coffin during the funeral of an Iraqi soldier in Baghdad, April 25, 2013.
    x
    Residents carry a coffin during the funeral of an Iraqi soldier in Baghdad, April 25, 2013.
    Residents carry a coffin during the funeral of an Iraqi soldier in Baghdad, April 25, 2013.
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has appealed for calm and dialogue as Sunni protesters battle his security forces for a third consecutive day in several parts of northern and central Iraq.

    In a nationally-televised address on Thursday, Maliki urged Iraqis "not to remain silent" about what he called efforts by "terrorists" to drag the country toward a sectarian civil war. He warned that if sedition spreads, there will be "no winners and losers, everyone will lose."

    Maliki's security forces surrounded the northern town of Suleiman Beg in preparation for trying to recapture it, a day after Sunnis took control of the area near the city of Tuz Khormato.

    The seizure was one of several incidents carried out by Sunnis on Wednesday, in apparent revenge for government troops raiding a Sunni protest site in the central town of Hawija on the previous day.

    Sunni militia also tried to seize parts of the northern city of Mosul late Wednesday, triggering a battle with security forces that killed at least 40 people, about 30 of them gunmen. Iraqi troops regained control of the area on Thursday.

    Government raid

    Tuesday's government raid on Hawija sparked fighting that killed at least 53 people. Iraqi authorities said security forces entered the camp to crack down on Sunnis militants suspected of infiltrating the demonstration.

    The three days of fighting are the deadliest in four months of protests by Iraq's minority Sunnis, who have been demanding the resignation of Maliki, a majority Shi'ite.

    They accuse his Shi'ite-led government of marginalizing the Sunni community and unfairly targeting its leaders for prosecution and arrest.

    In his address, Maliki said he will not allow the security forces to "infringe on the dignity of citizens." He also said no one will be allowed to infringe on the dignity of the Iraqi army and police whom he called Iraq's sources of "pride and strength."

    Security capabilities

    Analyst Anthony Cordesman of Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies said some of Iraq's elite army units are very good, but small in size and cannot cover the whole country.

    "That means they are going to be a lot of areas which will be vulnerable." he said.

    In an interview with VOA prior to the Hawija raid, the former U.S. State Department and Defense Department official said regular Iraqi army units are capable of formal security measures, but are not particularly effective in dealing with armed opposition.

    "The Iraqi army is divided," Cordesman said. "Often it is focusing on Shi'ite areas or is creating tension with Sunni areas rather than acting as a source of security," he said.

    The analyst also said many elements of the Iraqi police are not effective, with the exception of national police units.

    "Most Iraqi police forces reverted to a relatively passive, corrupt and ineffective state within months of the U.S. troop departure [in December 2011]," he said.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: MUSTAFA from: PAKISTAN
    April 25, 2013 10:23 PM
    There is simple solution of this problem, justice for every Iraqi without any consideration. They have to improve their justice system as to satisfy every body in Iraq. The second thing do not surrender in front of TERRORIST who have finanacial and other back up from other countries. There should be heavey punishment in front of every body for those terrorist who are doing all these dirty games for the sake of MONEY and no other object in their LITTLE MIND.

    by: Yerina Uzbek from: Iraq
    April 25, 2013 6:46 PM
    the fragmentation of Iraq were "on the cards" since the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire... Iraq has been "held together" by a succession of brutal monarchies and dictatorships of the make and in the pay of Britain. But so is by and large the whole Arab "world" - all these fake "Kings" and corrupt "Monarchies" - a cesspool of depravity which is bound to disintegrate...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora