Leader: Iraqi spats have sectarian tone

Jan. 20, 2012 at 12:36 PM

BAGHDAD, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The Sunni leader of a human rights commission in Baghdad expressed concern Friday that political conflict was taking on a sectarian tone.

Iraqi Special Forces targeted the homes of Sunni leaders in operations north of Baghdad, The Washington Post reports. Salim al-Jabouri, a Sunni politician who heads a parliamentary human rights commission, told the newspaper he felt politicians were targeted largely along sectarian lines.

"Why don't we hear about any kind of arrests or charges presented against members of the Shiite militia?" he asked.

He said more than a dozen members of the Sunni-led Islamic Party of Iraq were arrested in terrorism charges since December.

Political tensions in Iraq erupted shortly after U.S. forces ended their mission in Iraq last month. Iraqi leaders during visits with U.S. diplomats this week vowed to address the issues before political tensions escalated, however.

Security guards for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi accused him of terrorism, prompting Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to seek his arrest. Members of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya slate have suspended their membership in the country's legislative assembly in part because of the arrest warrant.

Several of Maliki's opponents have called for early elections to unseat the prime minster, accused by his rivals of being a dictator.

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