World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraq's Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should reform laws seen as unjustly marginalizing the country's Sunni Muslims or mass protests could spiral out of control, a top Sunni leader said.
Thousands have taken to the streets in Sunni stronghold provinces for three weeks of daily protests, posing the sternest test yet for Maliki's fragile government composed of Shi'ites, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds.
Osama al-Nujaifi, parliament speaker and the most senior elected Sunni figure, said Maliki should pass a draft amnesty law to free detainees jailed on terrorism charges and modify laws that many Sunnis say are used to target them unfairly.
Protesters also want to end a campaign against members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party that Sunnis fear is used to harass their leaders and sideline them from politics.
"They say they want justice and they want to be treated as citizens of the same class ... and if these demands which they present are not met, certainly they will call for ousting the government," Nujaifi told Reuters.
"We are afraid protest leaders and representatives will lose control of demonstrations after a while if they don't convince them that our political partners will change their policies."
The latest protests erupted after security forces arrested the bodyguards of the Sunni finance minister on terrorism charges, a move seen by many Sunnis as a provocation.
Nujaifi belongs to the more moderate wing of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya block in parliament, but Sunni ranks are split, with more radical leaders making increasingly tough demands.
Islamists and clerics are calling for Maliki's removal and even the establishment of an autonomous Sunni-dominated region bordering Syria, similar to the country's autonomous Kurdistan enclave in the north.
Disagreements have left Iraq without permanent ministers of defense and interior since the government was formed in 2010. Shi'ite leaders blame Sunni lawmakers for stalling, but Maliki's critics accuse him of amassing power.
"We believe the country is unbalanced," Nujaifi said. "All authority is exclusively under the control of a specific side and the participation of the other side is marginal."
Maliki, who spent years in underground exile from Saddam, accuses his Sunni partners of blocking the progress of government in an attempt to undermine his position.
The Shi'ite premier and some allies have suggested he may call early elections before a scheduled 2014 vote as a way to break the deadlock that has delayed key legislation.
Maliki has proven adept at navigating the country's shifting political allegiances to keep his administration intact.
Many Sunnis want him to rein in the campaign against former Baath party members, but that could alienate some of Maliki's Shi'ite backers before provincial elections in April.
Sunni parties are seeing signals from Maliki's National Alliance Shi'ite coalition that there is room for negotiation. But those overtures are very preliminary, Nujaifi said.
"We've started receiving messages suggesting we turn the page of the past, discard disagreements and start from the beginning," he said. "If we cannot reach a deal, the country will slide back into many problems."
Begum Khaled Zia failed to appear to face graft charges in court
Israels refusal to hand over $100 million in tax revenue from Palestinians has caused severe difficulties in Palestine, who is already struggling from Israeli bullying.
U.S. Army Europe Commanding General Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges says Washington was keen to see a ceasefire deal signed in Minsk between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists get implemented and expresses doubts over fragile ceasefire.
After a spate of negative press on Canadian Muslims, the Choudry family have devised a unique way to tackle Islamophobia.
Palestinian movement Hamas sharply blames such implications and remarks after the decision of Egyptian court that Egypt would arrest any Hamas members found on its soil.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Tuesday the original briefing was inaccurate and that military officials should not discuss war plans in any case.
Libya has not had government since ousting of Gaddafi, with the North African state in chaos
Previous "gas wars" have led to supply disruptions to Europe, which gets around a third of its gas from Russia, and 40 percent of this via Ukraine.
More than 350 Israeli troops had been receiving treatment for full psychological trauma after last year launched a weeks-long onslaught on the Gaza Strip.
The Arab League does not take positions after an Egyptian local court designated Hamas a "terrorist organization"
The fugitive and former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden seeks to come to U.S, after nearly two years in exile in Russia, according to his Russian lawyer
IAEA) representatives will meet Iranian officials in Tehran on March 9
Egyptian authorities decided to arrest any members of Hamas movement although Hamas denied accusations.
Iraqi troops, backed by Shiite groups, have launched a ground offensive against ISIL on Monday to recapture Tikrit city. Tikrit, a Sunni-majority city, was the homeland of the deceased Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Family of U.S slain Muslim says they are impressed due to Turkey's reactions to this case and Syrian refugees
Israel demolished makeshift homes for the fourth time on the grounds that economic and security buffer zone for Jewish settlements