Saturday, 5 January 2013
From The New York Times:
Baath Leader Urges Sunnis to Protest Iraqi Premier
ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) — The most senior member of Saddam Hussein’s entourage who has not been captured has encouraged antigovernment Sunni Muslim protesters to stand their ground until Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is forced out.
The former official, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, is the leader of the Baath Party, which was banned after the United States-led invasion in 2003 that overthrew Mr. Hussein, a Sunni, and gave the majority Shiite Muslims a prominent role in the new government.
Over the past two weeks, tens of thousands of Sunnis, some waving Hussein-era flags, have staged demonstrations in a show of anger against Mr. Maliki, a Shiite whom they have accused of monopolizing power and marginalizing Sunnis.
“The people of Iraq and all its nationalist and Islamic forces support you until the realization of your just demands for the fall of the Safavid-Persian alliance,” said Mr. Douri, addressing the protesters in video broadcast on Al Arabiya television.
Safavid is a reference to the dynasty that ruled Shiite Iran, which was once known as Persia, from the 16th to 18th centuries and that at times controlled parts of modern-day Iraq.
Since Mr. Maliki came to office in 2006, Iraq has edged closer to Iran, which wields strong influence over several Iraqi Shiite parties.
The authenticity of the video could not be verified. Mr. Douri said he was speaking from Babil Province in Iraq.
After the 2003 invasion, Mr. Douri was ranked sixth on the United States military’s list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, and a $10 million reward was offered for his capture.He was the deputy leader of Iraq’s Revolutionary Command Council under Mr. Hussein and took over the Baath leadership after Mr. Hussein was executed in 2006. He has seldom been seen since 2003. In a statement in 2009, he called on Sunni insurgent groups to move into politics.
Posted on 01/05/2013 8:28 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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