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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
08/05/2014 IRAQ

Baghdad patriarch tells pope that the Iraqi Christian tragedy is rooted in superpowers' selfishness
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

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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