We're going to stay with Iraq for another few moments to check a development that is not so good. Al-Qaeda terrorists are still prowling north of Baghdad in Diyala province. U.S. and Iraqi forces are struggling to gain full control, an effort that may get derailed by a sectarian dispute between the Sunnis and the Shiites. Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post is just back from Diyala province. Sudarsan, what happened?

Mr. SUDARSAN RAGHAVAN (Baghdad Bureau Chief, Washington Post): Well, there was a raid early yesterday morning on the governor's office in Diyala province in the capital, Baquba. The Iraqi security forces arrested two individuals, including one Sunni provisional council leader as well as the president of the University of Diyala. That immediately led to accusations of sectarianism.

The main Sunni political party, the Iraqi Islamic party, they put out a statement right away accusing the Shiite-led security forces of targeting Sunni politicians for political reasons. This is happening in a province that has seen a good amount of tensions rising between Sunnis and Shiites. And what happened yesterday essentially triggered what has been building up for a while.

CHADWICK: I thought that these tensions between the Sunnis and Shiites were sort of being ameliorated. I mean, you weren't hearing quite so much about these kind of - the sectarian nature of these disputes over the last six, seven, eight, nine months. Why is it that this incident kind of revives that?

Mr. RAGHAVAN: Well, part of the reason is, you know, what we're seeing here is a switch from sectarianism - sectarian politics to more reasonable politics, and there's an upcoming power struggle happening in Diyala province between Sunnis and Shiites. The Shiites currently lead the province, although the province is predominantly Sunni. That's largely because the Sunnis boycotted the last election.

CHADWICK: What are U.S. officials saying about this?

Mr. RAGHAVAN: Well, the U.S. military say they had no involvement at all in the raid yesterday.

CHADWICK: Well, they've arrested these two men. One is an official in the office of the governor of the province. The other is the president of the university. Those would seem to be two pretty prominent individuals. Does anyone know what's happened to them, where they are?

Mr. RAGHAVAN: That's still murky right now. We know they've been arrested. We don't know where they're being held, and according to Iraqi officials, they've apparently been arrested on charges of committing violence, committing terrorism. We don't much - really much more than that.

CHADWICK: So we have this day in Iraq. It begins with this pretty normal thing, a visit from a - from the leader of a neighboring country, and then this kind of a development, which doesn't sound normal at all. It leaves you kind of wondering, one step forward, one step backwards.

Mr. RAGHAVAN: Sure, but, you know, what it really illustrates is how uneven the security situation in Iraq is. Sure, you're seeing signs of progress. You're seeing neighboring leaders and neighboring countries visit. You are seeing violence levels down, but there are still large parts of Iraq that could explode at any moment. And it really shows how little the security situation is in many areas.

CHADWICK: Sudarsan Raghavan reporting for the Washington Post in Baghdad. Sudarsan, thanks.

Mr. RAGHAVAN: My pleasure.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from