In addition to a new article yesterday, the reporter followed the developments as the sectarian violence increased due to a failed policy of PM Maliki who has estranged the Sunni minority in Anbar province. Don’t obfuscate the issue by denying the direct link to the Syrian civil war started three years ago. [Links added are mine – Oui]

See my earlier diary – Michael Ledeen from Trotsky to Mussolini – Our Freedom Betrayed.

What We Left Behind

(The New Yorker) Apr. 28, 2014 – When the last American soldiers left Iraq, at the end of 2011, the bloody civil war between the country’s Sunni and Shiite sects had been stifled but not resolved. Now the sectarian violence had returned, with terrifying intensity. For more than a year, thousands of Iraqis, nearly all of them members of the Sunni Arab minority, had been gathering to rail against Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government. Although the protests were mostly peaceful, security forces responded harshly, detaining thousands of Sunni men without charges and, in one encampment, touching off a spasm of violence that left hundreds of civilians dead. Across the Sunni heartland, north and west of Baghdad, the town squares filled with angry crowds, and the rhetoric grew more extreme. In Ramadi, protesters raised black jihadi flags, representing the extremist Al Qaeda offshoot that had dominated the city during the American occupation. “We are a group called Al Qaeda!” a man shouted from a stage in the protesters’ camp. “We will cut off heads and bring justice!” The crowd cheered.

Speaking into the television cameras on Christmas, Maliki ordered the protesters to disband. Largely ignoring his own men’s excesses, he claimed that the protests were dominated by extremists. “This site has become a base for Al Qaeda,” he said, filled with “killers and criminals.” Maliki ended his speech with what for him was a flourish of emotion, lifting a hand from the lectern. “There will be no negotiations while the square is still standing.” [Another dark Christmas for Iraq’s Christians]

In the protests at Ramadi, a Sunni member of parliament named Ahmed al-Alwani had inflamed the crowds, accusing Maliki of being in league with the Iranian regime, the region’s great Shiite power. “My message is for the snake Iran!” Alwani shouted into a microphone, jabbing his finger into the air. Referring to Maliki and those around him as “Safavids” and “Zoroastrians,” terms that denote Iranian invaders, he said, “Let them listen up and know that those gathered here will return Iraq to its people!”

Obama, al-Maliki discuss fighting al Qaeda

(CBS News) Nov. 1, 2013 – Mr. Obama said his administration has been “encouraged” by the work al-Maliki has done “to ensure that all people inside of Iraq — Sunni, Shia and Kurd — feel that they have a voice in their government… so people understand that when they have differences they can express them politically as opposed to through violence.”

Mr. Obama said that he and al-Maliki also spent a “considerable amount of time talking about Syria, where the spillover effects of the chaos and Assad’s horrific treatment of his own people has had spillover effects in Iraq as well.” He said it’s in the interest of both the United States and Iraq to “try to bring about a political settlement” in Syria.