Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Top Sunni cleric calls on U.S. to cut ties with Maliki

(Reuters) - Iraq's top Sunni cleric called on the United States yesterday to cut ties with Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, saying his ‘puppet' government had failed and a US backed political process was at a dead end. "If the Americans remain with this policy and rely on the same men who proved their failure again and again then they will leave Iraq in failure," Shaikh Harith Al Dari said.
"The US administration should rectify its position in Iraq and stop depending on puppets... who have proven their failure," the leader of Iraq's Muslim Clerics Association said in an interview in Amman. Al Maliki's unity government, set up to try to ease sectarian tensions and quell violence, has been in crisis since the main Sunni Arab bloc quit early this month and he wants political leaders to meet in coming days to resolve the deadlock.

Al Dari, whose association groups Iraq's Sunni religious leaders, said Washington had brought untold suffering on Iraq's people during its four-year-old occupation and it should now try to foster a non-partisan government. The cleric, who has praised Sunni insurgent groups but denies direct links, said Washington also needed to rebuild the army on non-sectarian grounds.
Soon after the 2003 overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussain, a Sunni, the US administration dissolved the army and security forces, sacking hundreds of thousands of soldiers and further embittering Sunnis. "If the Americans think of a new type of rule that relies on wisdom and firmness alongside power to impose security... they can pull out of Iraq with a face saver," he said.
"This is better for America than dealing with a weak government... It would guarantee them a future government that respects them as friends... rather than one that is a burden and survives on American taxpayers' money," Al Dari said.

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