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Sectarian violence's return in Iraq feared

April 7, 2010 at 9:56 AM   |   Comments

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BAGHDAD, April 7 (UPI) -- The increased violence in Iraq has caused some Iraqis to voice fear a sectarian war is near.

In the past week, explosions over three days in and around Baghdad killed nearly 150 people, prompting some people to worry the sectarian violence of 2006 and 2007 may return, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

"People will get sick and tired," Hassan Aboudi, an Iraqi civilian, told the Times. "We don't wish this thing, but what will happen now? There are people without leaders."

Others said political sides were trying to undercut each other after the March 7 parliamentary elections failed to produce a decisive winner and left current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a contest with former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite whose coalition won a plurality. Both sides are trying to form a coalition government, but the exercise has disintegrated along sectarian lines.

Even with the increased violence, U.S. officials said the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops would continue, the Times said. Plans call for a draw down from the current level of nearly 95,000 military personnel to 50,000 non-combat forces by the end of August.

"There is a recognition violence may happen, and U.S. diplomacy is going to have to try to push the sides toward compromise," Kenneth Katzman, the Congressional Research Service's senior Middle East analyst, told the Times. "There is not a sense that we can keep military assets there forever or slow down the draw down, or reverse the draw down or halt the draw down."

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