For Iraq, civil war looms nearer
Arabic media review

For Iraq, civil war looms nearer

'We Muslims are not terrorists; we even help apprehend them,' says gas station attendant who led cops to Tsarnaev brothers

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Iraqi army soldiers leaving Hawija, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, on April 23, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hadi Mizban)
Iraqi army soldiers leaving Hawija, 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, on April 23, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hadi Mizban)

A bloody crackdown by Iraq’s army on an anti-government demonstration in the northern province of Kirkuk forewarns of the renewal of civil strife in the war-torn country, Arab dailies write on Wednesday.

“The Kirkuk massacre brings civil war closer,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, which reports the deaths and injury of dozens of Sunni Iraqis in the town of Hawija, where they were protesting against the government of Shiite prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

“The reactions indicated that Iraq is nearing a return to civil war, as rivals of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki escalated their attack on his ‘sectarian’ policy,” reads the article.

More and more Iraqi politicians are boycotting Maliki’s government, who is increasingly viewed as a political extension of Iran’s Shiite government.

Maliki has appointed his deputy Hussein Shahrastani as interim foreign minister after Kurdish foreign minister Hoshyar Zibari decided to “boycott the government.” Parliament members from the predominantly Sunni Iraqiya bloc boycotted parliament meetings following the army’s crackdown on the demonstrations Tuesday, leading to the suspension of the parliament’s sessions until tomorrow, Al-Hayat reported.

“Iraq boils following storming of the protest encampment in Hawija,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. An Iraqi security source told the daily that the army began firing at the demonstrators — some of them armed — who refused to vacate the area. At least 50 were killed and hundreds were wounded.

“If the tribal mobilization in Iraq’s western and northern provinces were the most significant ramifications of the Hawija events, the resignation of education minister Muhammad Tamim, a member of the dialogue front led by deputy prime minister Saleh Mutlaq, was the most significant political occurrence,” reads an article in A-Sharq Al-Awsat.

“At the same time, politicians from various political parties bemoaned the partnership with Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.”

Shaalan Karim, a member of the Iraqiya bloc, told A-Sharq Al-Awsat that Maliki is “attempting to ignite a sectarian war, implementing foreign agendas, and particularly Iranian ones. He does not care whether Iraqi blood is spilled or not.”

Meanwhile, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports that opposition leaders in Iraq’s western Anbar province have called on tribesmen to arm themselves and remain alert following the Hawija incident.

Saudi news website Elaph outlines the destabilizing forces in Iraq. The Army of the Naqshabandi Order, an Baathist insurgency group led by former Saddam Hussein deputy Izzat A-Duri, has attacked Iraqi soldiers across the country, demanding that the soldiers turn over their weapons and leave their military barracks.

Criticism of Maliki even emanated from his own Shiite camp. Muqtada Sadr, a hardline Shiite cleric and political leader, accused Maliki’s forces of using excessive force against the protesters.

“It is odd that the Iraq government has opened a new door to illegitimate and excessive violence, which will certainly lead to unwanted results,” Sadr wrote in a statement published Tuesday.

An Egyptian immigrant helped nab Boston terrorists

An Egyptian immigrant who works in a Watertown gas station led American police to the two Boston terrorists late Thursday night, Al-Arabiya reports.

The channel spoke to Tareq Fouad Ahmad, who moved from Alexandria to the US five years ago. While Ahmad was working the night shift at the station, a young Chinese man ran into his convenience store and told him that the two terrorists had carjacked him and arrived at the gas station across the street. Ahmad promptly phoned the police and described the car, leading to the terrorists’ apprehension.

“We Arabs and Muslims are not terrorists, and we even help to apprehend them. My conscience is clear,” Ahmad told Al-Arabiya.

The channel also contacted Sheikh Talal Eid, a Lebanese cleric who founded the Boston Islamic Center and leads prayers in its mosque.

Eid told Al-Arabiya that he refuses to recite the Islamic prayer for the deceased over the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who through his actions “removed himself from the Islamic community.”

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