Civil Unrest Spikes in Iraq, Rallies Demand PM Ouster
Tens of thousands protesters rallied against Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Sunni areas Friday as data showed a rise in attacks, indicating militants are seeking to capitalize on a prolonged political crisis.
The rallies came a week after eight demonstrators were shot dead by soldiers in the western town of Fallujah, dramatically raising tensions in what analysts have said is a markedly more dangerous stage of Iraq's perennial instability, international media reported.
Insurgents have sought to ride the wave of anger against Maliki and his government, with Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq issuing an audio message on Thursday calling on Sunnis to take up arms.
Protesters gathered in Baghdad and several cities and towns in the mostly Sunni north and west, complaining of the alleged targeting of their minority by the Shiite-led authorities.
In Ramadi, capital of Anbar province which surrounds Fallujah, many protesters held up flags dating back to the rule of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
In Adhamiyah, a mostly Sunni neighbourhood of north Baghdad, several hundred demonstrators resumed their weekly protest under heavy security measures at the Abu Hanifa mosque, calling for the release of prisoners they say are being wrongfully held.
The demonstrations were the latest in a wave of rallies that have continued largely uninterrupted since late December, sparked by the arrest of a group of guards of Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, a senior Sunni leader.
Maliki faces myriad problems, including vocal opposition from many of his erstwhile government partners less than three months before key provincial elections.
Iraqi authorities have taken several steps aimed at curbing the protests.
Officials claim to have released nearly 900 prisoners, and have pledged to raise the salaries of anti-Qaeda militiamen, while a top minister has publicly apologised for holding detainees without charge for prolonged periods.
If it only was protests...
they are 20% of the population, under Saddam they ruled fully...and since then have been responsible for most violence. Whenever you hear about a terrorist attack in Iraq, the victims are always Shia, Kurd, Christian...but perpetrators are Sunni Arabs. Despite the horrible body count, the Shia have always held back from retaliating. Making the Sunni Arabs basically monopoly on violence and terror..
They want power, even though they are the minority, they kill left and right for not getting their way. But in Syria they are the majority and behave the same way, you don't see the Kurds, Christians and others behave similar.
If you hear of an attack in lets say Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, you figure before getting in that the victims aren't Sunni and that the perpetrators are Sunni. How often are you wrong? Ever?
Once the Sunni join the civilized world, they can talk about getting respect, until then, they are the enemy of everyone that has the misfortune of living with them..