Can Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hold Iraq together?

Christian Science Monitor reports: The challenge facing Abadi was always going to be herculean: how to overcome years – even decades – of sectarian divisions in Iraq, made worse by the unabashedly Shiite-first policies of his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki.

“I think everybody now, in the political spectrum and the country, recognizes this is the last chance for Iraq to survive as we know it,” says Vice President Ayad Allawi, himself a former prime minister. And yet that realization, he adds, hasn’t focused Iraq’s political minds enough.

“Until now, this inclusivity is theoretical rather than actual,” says Mr. Allawi, a secular Shiite who served as interim prime minister from 2004 to 2005 and whose Iraqiya bloc has included top Sunni politicians.

“In parallel with this military effort, we need a political effort, which is not existing until now,” says Allawi. The areas where IS is operating need to be “immunized” by ensuring equal citizenship for Sunnis and mobilizing them to fight IS themselves, “not to be disenfranchised, ignored, and punished. And unfortunately this is not happening.” [Continue reading…]

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