News / Middle East

    Iraq Police Break Up Sunni Protest Camp

    Gunmen takeover a police vehicle in Ramadi, Iraq, Dec. 30 2013.
    Gunmen takeover a police vehicle in Ramadi, Iraq, Dec. 30 2013.
    Reuters
    Fighting erupted when Iraqi police broke up a Sunni Muslim protest camp in the western Anbar province on Monday, leaving at least 13 people dead, police and medical sources said.

    The camp has been an irritant to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim-led government since Sunni protesters set it up a year ago to demonstrate against what they see as marginalization of their sect.

    The operation triggered an immediate political backlash as dozens of Sunni lawmakers offered their resignations.

    Maliki, who is seeking a third term in April's elections, has repeatedly vowed to remove the camp and accused protesters of stirring strife and sheltering al-Qaida-linked militants.

    Violence has spiked this year as al-Qaida-linked militants target the government and anyone seen to be supporting it, raising fears of a return to the sectarian conflict of 2006-2007 that killed tens of thousands.

    Another 11 people died in separate attacks across Iraq on Monday. Police sources said Monday's clashes broke out when gunmen opened fire on police special forces trying to enter Ramadi, the western city where the protest camp is located. The gunmen destroyed four police vehicles and killed at least three policemen in the north of Ramadi, one source said. The bodies of 10 other people killed in the clashes were brought into Ramadi's morgue, hospital and morgue sources said.

    In Fallujah, gunmen attacked army patrols deployed along the main highway leading to Ramadi. Many Sunnis resent Shi'ite domination of Iraq's politics since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 and empowered majority Shi'ites through the ballot box.

    Sheik Abdul Malik Al-Saadi, an influential Sunni cleric who had called on protesters to remain peaceful, denounced the operation and called on security forces to withdraw immediately to prevent further bloodshed. Calling Maliki's government a "sectarian government that wants to smash and eradicate the Sunni people in its country", he urged Sunni ministers, parliament members and local officials to resign and boycott the political process.
     
    Resentment

    A few hours later, over 40 Sunni lawmakers - a substantial portion of parliament - offered their resignations. Although not effective unless accepted by parliament's speaker, the resignations put further pressure on Maliki.

    Prominent Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq called for all lawmakers from the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc to withdraw from the political process, saying it had hit a "dead end".

    "Elections in this atmosphere would be settled in advance, therefore we should raise our voices high and say the political process cannot proceed in this way," he told reporters.

    Tensions have been rising over the past few weeks in Anbar, a province that makes up a third of Iraq's territory and is populated mainly by Sunnis living along the Euphrates River. The army launched a major operation there to flush out al-Qaida militants after an attack killed at least 18 soldiers including an army commander on Dec. 21.

    Then on Saturday security forces arrested a prominent Sunni lawmaker from the Iraqiya bloc in the area after killing his brother in a firefight with his bodyguards. The incident prompted Saadi, the Sunni cleric, to urge Sunni protesters to "defend themselves".

    Elsewhere in Iraq, three separate bombs in Baghdad killed at least eight people, police said.

    Three policemen were also found dead on the side of a road in the western Abu Ghraib district after gunmen abducted them, police said. In Tikrit, the deputy governor of Salahuddin province escaped unharmed after a car bomb exploded near his convoy, wounding four of his bodyguards, police said. At least 10 people were wounded when a car bomb exploded near a Shi'ite mosque in southern part of Kirkuk, police said.

    More than 8,000 people have been killed across Iraq this year, according to the United Nations.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora