Baghdad — A stepped-up campaign by Iraq’s prime minister against Saddam Hussein loyalists is alienating Sunni Muslims and stoking tensions between them and the majority Shiites ahead of key national elections.
In its latest anti-Baathist attack, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government put three men on state television Sunday to confess their alleged role in planning suicide attacks in Baghdad last month. The three, all in detention and dressed in orange prison jumpsuits, said the bombings were ordered by Saddam’s Baath Party.
Al-Maliki’s intensified rhetoric worsens one of Iraq’s most dangerous sectarian fault lines — one which the United States has long struggled to calm.
Reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites has been an elusive goal, seen as critical for Iraqi’s stability — and it takes on added urgency with American forces now scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Many fear that without U.S. troops, sectarian and ethnic rifts could reignite into violence.