Maliki protest community set up in Iraq

Jan. 2, 2013 at 10:34 AM

RAMADI, Iraq, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Sunni communities in the western Iraqi province of Anbar have said they were worried the central government may drag the country into civil war.

A series of internal political disputes and a string of attacks across the country have sparked concerns about Iraq's post-war stability. Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused his opponents of exploiting the arrest of bodyguards for Iraqi Finance Minister Rafei al-Essawi for political gain.

Sunni communities in Anbar set up a tent city near the provincial capital of Ramadi to protest Maliki's government, the BBC reports. A protest banner on a tent warns "the sectarian government" against dragging the country into war.

The BBC reports that influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has thrown his support behind the Anbar protest movement.

Attacks in Iraq and the semiautonomous Kurdish north prompted U.N. officials to express concern about Iraq's internal dynamics. Political tensions have simmered in Iraq at least since U.S. forces left the country in December 2011.

Iraq is to have elections in April for provincial councils. Elections in 2009 resulted in the longest political stalemate in world history as Iraq's leaders struggled to reconcile over internal differences.

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