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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs