Iraq Rattled by Egyptian Comments on Civil War
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
In Iraq, the political deadlock continues. Today, the country's largest Sunni-Arab block in parliament reaffirmed its opposition to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari remaining in office. Kurdish political leaders are also opposed to Jaafari, leaving the Shiite majority little choice but to select a new candidate in order to break the months-long log jam. NPR's Jamie Tarabay joins me now from Baghdad. Hello.
JAMIE TARABAY: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Is this political crisis in Iraq any closer to resolution?
TARABAY: But yesterday, the acting speaker of parliament said he would call on the assembly to convene in the next few days. So if this happens, this issue of al-Jaafari as the Prime Minister may be resolved soon.
MONTAGNE: And Egypt jumped in to the fray over the weekend. President Hosni Mubarak spoke about the situation in Iraq, and he accused the country's Shiites of loyalty to Iran. He also suggested a civil war had almost started. What's been the reaction there in Baghdad?
TARABAY: It really hit a nerve here, because all of the leaders are trying to maintain a sense of unity. Having someone like Mubarak come out and say that Iran is an influence, you know, it's only confirming suspicions by the Sunni politicians that Tehran is interfering in its politics. And it hasn't really helped the situation here at all.
MONTAGNE: What can you tell us about that?
TARABAY: The report also confirms that there is a religious and ethnic divide growing across the country, and it realizes a lot of fears as well, you know, the growing influence of Iran in many areas in the South, the militias that are gaining influence and that are functioning relatively unchecked, and that violence in areas where ethnicities are mixed is uncontrolled and is just running rampant in places. It doesn't just include Baghdad. We're talking about places like Mosul in the North and in Kirkuk.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Jamie Tarabay in Baghdad.
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