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Politically Exposed, Iraq’s Maliki Cracks Down

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

While details remain uncertain about who started the fighting and exactly who did what to whom, last week saw a marked escalation in rhetoric and violence between mostly Sunni Arab protesters and Iraqi government forces under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s control. Peaceful protests turned into armed camps. Dozens were killed in the most intense clashes with security forces since Iraq’s virtual civil war in 2006-2007.

The Iraqi state is today much better equipped to hold its own against armed adversaries than it was six or seven years ago, when the U.S. played a crucial role in ending sectarian fighting, not least by negotiating to bring Sunni “Awakening” forces over to the government’s side. Maliki’s approach is less nuanced -- his political coalition is not called “State of Law” for nothing. He feels justified using the state’s monopoly on the legitimate means of violence to subdue protesters who take up arms, even as he also promises investigations into any abuses. ...

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