By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) – Iraq‘s Nuri al-Maliki is acting like Saddam Hussein in trying to silence opposition and he risks provoking a new fightback against dictatorship, one of Maliki‘s predecessors as prime minister said Tuesday.
Iyad Allawi, who leads the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, said the televised confessions Maliki has used to demand the arrest of the country’s Sunni Muslim vice president were fabrications.
Speaking to Reuters two days after the final departure of the U.S. forces that ended Saddam’s Sunni-dominated rule, Allawi called for international efforts to prevent the Shi’ite premier from provoking renewed sectarian warfare of the kind that killed tens of thousands in the years after Saddam fell in 2003.
“This is terrifying, to bring fabricated confessions,” Allawi said shortly before leaving the Jordanian capital Amman to return to Iraq. “It reminds me personally of what Saddam Hussein used to do where he would accuse his political opponents of being terrorists and conspirators.”
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has taken refuge in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, denies allegations he ordered bombings and shootings against his opponents. The move against him, on the very day U.S. troops left the country, threatens to upset a balance among Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.
“We fear the return of dictatorship by this authoritarian way of governing. It’s the latest in a build-up of atrocities, arrests and intimidation that has been going on on a wide scale,” said Allawi, who comes from the Shi’ite Muslim majority but who has drawn support heavily from disaffected Sunnis.
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