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Former Iraqi vice president: Iraq is witnessing a 'Sunni Arab revolt'

The former Iraqi Vice President Tarek Al-Hashemi has described the ongoing unrest against the government in Iraq a "Sunni Arab revolt", Reuters reported on yesterday.

He rejected suggestions that this fight is led by ISIS. "What happened in my country … is desperate people's revolted. Simple as that. Arab Sunni communities over 11 years faced discrimination, injustice, corruption," he said.

Regarding those fighting he said: "We have about 11 to 12 armed groups, and they are being reactivated now. And we do also have political parties involved, we have ex-army officers, we have tribes, we have independent people in fact."

ISIS has an influential number of fighters. "I am not going to deny that ISIS exist. They are influential, very strong, could be a vanguard even in the whole operation in Mosul and other provinces, but they are not representing the whole spectrum of the groups."

Sectarian war

Al-Hashemi warned of possibilities that this fighting could end up with a sectarian war. "If we leave things developing on the ground there will be a possibility for wide-scale sectarian warfare," he said.

He blamed the Grand Shia Cleric in Iraq Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani for calling his followers to take up arms during his Friday sermon.

"The fatwa of Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani put more fuel on the fire. There will be a reaction from the Arab Sunni communities and at the end of the day we are expecting a holy war between Muslims, Shia and Sunni," he said.

The exiled Sunni official, who was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court, said: "We have to stop that. We should try our best to stop the bloodshed. This is the responsibility of everybody, especially the United Nations."

Reuters said that many critics like Al-Hashemi accuse Al-Maliki of gaining undue control over the army, police and security services, using them freely against Sunni Muslims and other political foes, while allowing grave abuses in prisons and detention centres.

According to Al-Hashemi, Al-Maliki's leadership and abandonment of the international community for Iraq has fuelled the rise of extremists.

"Because of the injustice, they [Maliki and international community] pushed our youngest sons to be more extreme. We kept warning the international community but everybody remained blind to what's going on in Iraq," he said, "and suddenly, they ask: 'why has this happened in Mosul? Why has this happened in Salahuddin?' You should blame yourselves."


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