Iraq’s political leaders should share power with the Sunni Muslim minority as a solution to peace in the middle eastern nation, the country’s exiled vice president Tareq al-Hashimi has urged.
Mr Hashimi accused Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki of attacking Sunni moderates and creating a vacuum that was filled by the extremists and lead to the current crisis.
He said in an interview with news website The Daily Beast: “We shouldn’t look at this development of ISIS as apart from the uprising of the Arab Sunni provinces over two years.
“The provinces have risen up peacefully against the oppression, the injustice, the inhuman conditions the Arab Sunnis have been suffering for years. There is anger against Nouri al-Maliki and the behavior of the government over almost eight years so there was no option other than revolt for the Sunnis.
“The US is in the process of committing itself into another set of grave mistakes. Definitely we consider all this military support to Nouri al-Maliki an alliance with Iran against the Arab Sunnis.
“I can assure you a widespread spectrum of groups participated in what happened in Mosul. The media is focusing on ISIS,” he said.
Speaking from Turkey, where Mr Hashimi has been living since the al-Maliki government purged him in 2012, he added: “There are two sides, the extremists and moderates. If you target the moderates, you intentionally create a vacuum that could be filled by the extremists and that’s exactly what happened.”
The Obama administration was repeating that mistake again by sending US advisers and equipment to shore up the Iraqi military and considering US military force against Sunnis inside Iraq, Mr Hashimi said, and urged the US to stay out of the conflict.
He told The Daily Beast: “It’s a really annoying development. The US is in the process of committing itself into another set of grave mistakes. Definitely we consider all this military support to Nouri al-Maliki an alliance with Iran against the Arab Sunnis.
“Try to avoid any use of military means, try to be fair, try to diffuse the bomb by asking Nouri al-Maliki to immediately to establish a caretaker government.
“The international community should support a process by which all political stakeholders would be brought together to review the political process and devise a whole new formula for the sharing of power and resources in Iraq.
“The international community should step in and play a role in solving the real problems, dealing with the extremists is not enough. And don’t expect another Anbar awakening this time around. The Sunni tribes still remember what happened last time and they are not going to make the
same mistake of expelling the extremists and thereby leaving themselves vulnerable to Shiite forces.
“Nobody from the Arab Sunnis are ready to repeat the same experience of 2008. But if we establish a real state in Baghdad, extremism will be over.”
He also warned the US to beware of the rise of Shia extremism in Iraq, pointing to the growing ranks of the Shia militias supported by the Baghdad government inside Iraq.
He said the entrance of countries like Iraq, Russia, and Syria into the Iraq conflict is destabilizing and Iraq should turn to its strategic partner the US for long-term security and stability, but for that to happen, the US must act ‘decisively, aggressively, and on behalf of all the rights of all Iraqis, not just the Shia’.
He added: “The US ethically is still in charge of our security, our stability and preventing interference from foreign countries, whether neighboring countries or far away countries, it is still the responsibility of the US.
“Transparency, human rights, no corruption, justice, no interference. All of these values have been talked about nicely but nobody has pressed the government on which have been achieved and which have failed. That is the role of the United States.”