Can Iraq survive its own politics?

Reuters reports: Iraq’s political crisis shows no sign of easing a month after the Shi’ite-led government sought the arrest of a Sunni vice president, triggering fears that Iraq, without the buffer of U.S. troops, could return to sectarian conflict.

Accused of running death squads, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is holed up in Iraqi Kurdistan as a guest of Iraq’s Kurdish president. The government of the semi-autonomous region has not responded to requests from Baghdad to hand him over.

The move against Hashemi, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s attempt to fire his Sunni deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq, prompted a boycott of parliament and cabinet by the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc.

This has put stress on the fragile coalition of Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish parties forming Maliki’s power-sharing government.

Some of the worst militant attacks against Shi’ites in the past year followed quickly on the heels of the political crisis, which threatens to unravel Iraq’s hard-won coalition government and to worsen the country’s sectarian divide.

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