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Iraq Sunni Cleric: New Security Plan Is Plot Vs Sunnis January 10, 2007

Posted by notapundit in World News.
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CAIRO (AP)–A prominent hardline leader of Iraq’s Sunni Arabs lashed out against new security plans by U.S. President George W. Bush and Iraq’s prime minister, saying in an interview published Wednesday they were plotting to kill Sunnis.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the new offensive over the weekend, saying Iraqi security forces backed by U.S. troops aimed to crush militants in Baghdad. Al-Maliki aides said the assault would target Sunni insurgents first, rather than Shiite Muslim militiamen blamed in sectarian killings.

The plan was launched ahead of a new strategy that U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to reveal later Wednesday, which includes sending 20,000 more U.S. troops to try to secure Baghdad and the Sunni province of Anbar.

Sunni leader Harith al-Dhari – head of the influential Association of Muslims Scholars, a group with ties to some Sunni insurgents – denounced al-Maliki’s offensive in an interview with the Saudi daily Al-Watan, saying the Shiite-led government wasn’t providing balanced security.

“This government has taken as its job to slaughter, arrest, abduct and displace (Sunnis). It is not taking its responsibility for a real security or economy or even providing services for the Iraqi people,” al-Dhari was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

“Now they want to implement the new security plan with the collaboration of the American president George Bush,” he added.

“It seems to me that…Bush wants to take vengeance against the Iraqi people who reject the presence of his (U.S.) forces in Iraq,” al-Dhari said. “I say to Arab nations and the world, this new plan is a plot for new carnage, being prepared for particular areas of Iraq, with the participation of Bush and al-Maliki.”

U.S. officials have said the additional U.S. troops deployed under Bush’s new strategy would work with Iraqi troops to put down both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen.

But al-Dhari, an outspoken critic of the Iraqi government and the U.S. occupation who left Iraq for Jordan after al-Maliki’s government accused him of inciting terrorism, alleged the security plans were intended to target the Sunni minority.

“This security plan intends to attack and besiege (Sunni) villages and cities, to arrest and eliminate the youths who are thought to be with the resistance, or potential insurgents,” he said.

He accused al-Maliki of backing Shiite militias, particularly the Mahdi Army, the feared militia headed by cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and blamed for killing hundreds of Sunnis. Al-Sadr’s party is a key part of al-Maliki’s ruling coalition.

“Al-Maliki himself backs up these militias, from which he gets his strength,” al-Dhari said. “These militias are being used to butcher Iraqis who oppose the occupation.”

In the interview, posted on Al-Watan’s Web site, al-Dhari also warned of worsening violence in Iraq if the government goes ahead with the execution of two aides of Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death for war crimes. The Dec. 30 hanging of Saddam raised widespread criticism when video showed his executioners taunting him on the gallows and shouting Shiite slogans.

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