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» 06/14/2012
IRAQ
The fight for political and economic power behind recent bloody attacks, says Kirkuk archbishop
by Joseph Mahmoud
Iraq's main political leaders and parties are fighting for power. The country is at the core of a regional struggle between two blocks, those against (Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar) and those in favour (United States and Iran) of Maliki. Each ethnic and confessional group is trying to carve out its "own space," Mgr Sako said. The power vacuum is "progressively making security and domestic politics worse."

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) -  "The country's main political leaders and parties are vying for political and economy hegemony," said Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk (northern Iraq), who spoke to AsiaNews in the wake of the recent wave of deadly attacks that left more than 80 people dead and 200 wounded in 18 car bombs and 40 explosions. Such carnage had not been seen since US troops pulled out in December. Targets included Kurdish offices, Shia pilgrims, and Sunni police and civilians.

One has to go back to 2006 and 2007, when tens of thousands of people died, to find anything similar, local political analysts and experts said. Now, the latter fear that the country might plunge again into a bloody ethnic-confessional conflict. The involvement in Iraq of regional rivals like Saudi Arabia and Iran can only increase insecurity and cause greater violence.

"Yesterday, we had bombs and explosions everywhere," Mgr Sako said. "Attacks occurred in the capital Baghdad, Mosul, Hilla, Baaquba, Tikrit, Ramadi and Samawa. In Kirkuk, one person died when three bombs went off near the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the Rahim-Awa District. A Christian journalist was wounded by the blast."

In the capital, four bombs killed 30 people, mostly Shia pilgrims. In Hilla, south of the capital, two car bombs targeted a restaurant frequented by police and security agents, killing 22.

Iraq's government "was formed only eight months ago and is not fully complete," the archbishop of Kirkuk explained. "Yet, it's already the object of distrust and attempts to change it."

The country's political factions "cannot agree or work together. They are only looking out for their own interests rather than the overall good" of the nation. "Kurds, Sunnis associated with the Iraqiya party and Sadrists distrust Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki," who is instead backed by "a majority of Shias and some Sunni groups."

Regional power games are also affecting the domestic political scene. "Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar favour change, whilst Iran and the United States are close to the current Iraqi prime minister," the prelate told AsiaNews.

This dual internal and external fight is "causing great tensions," he noted. "Yesterday's attacks are part of the overall picture;" not to mention what is "happening in Syria and other countries."

"Each ethnic and confessional group is carving out its own space and taking land. It is building its own houses and institutes to project power. This is not the time for a formal change, because it would create a power vacuum that would progressively worsen security conditions."

Attacks are further indication of the widening conflict among the country's various ethnic (Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds) and confessional (Shia and Sunni) groups, once held together by Saddam Hussein's dictatorship but now fighting for the country's territory and wealth (oil and gas).


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See also
03/29/2012 IRAQ
Mgr Sako urges Christians "not to fear" celebrating Easter
by Louis Sako *
02/25/2014 IRAQ
For Chaldean Patriarch, Lent is a time of "prayer and fasting" for peace and the future of Christians in Iraq
by Mar Louis Raphael I Sako
09/06/2013 IRAQ - VATICAN - SYRIA
For Patriarch Sako, the tragedy of war unites Iraq and Syria, calls for fasting and prayers for peace
04/19/2011 MIDDLE EAST – IRAQ
Arab spring possible only if all citizens have equal rights, says Mgr Sako
by Louis Sako
07/11/2013 IRAQ - ISLAM
Patriarch Sako: Greetings of peace to our Muslim brothers and sisters for Ramadan
by Mar Louis Raphael I Sako

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"Stop! I am asking you with all my heart. Stop!" says pope as he speaks out on the Middle East, Iraq and Ukraine He mentions children, victims of war, "from whom we take away the hope for a decent life," urging the parties to address "every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and the power of reconciliation". As tomorrow marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, "a day of mourning," we should learn the lessons of history. The Gospel makes us know the true Jesus, the living Jesus, who speaks to the heart and is a life changer as he was for Saint Francis of Assisi. "The joy of finding the treasure of the Kingdom of God comes through, can be seen. Christians cannot hide their faith."
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Saddened by "the timidity of the civilised world," Baghdad patriarch's heart bleeding "for the innocent in Iraq, Syria and Gaza" "Forget us not!" says Mar Louis Sako in a message to Card Barbarin on the occasion of the march of solidarity with Iraqi Christians, held today in Lyon.
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Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".

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