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Al-Hashemi hits back against al-Maliki | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Baghdad/Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat – In a striking development in the crisis surrounding Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraqi authorities yesterday issued a warrant for his arrest for suspected ties to assassinations and bombings. Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Adel Daham, informed a news conference that confessions by suspects identified as al-Hashemi’s bodyguards linked the vice president to killing s and attacks on Iraqi government and security officials.

Waving a copy of the arrest warrant in front of reporters, General Adel Daham said “an arrest warrant was issued for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, according to Article IV of the terrorism law and is signed by five judges” adding “this warrant should be executed.”

Al-Hashemi has been accused of being behind a number of terrorist attacks and assassinations in Iraq.

Speaking to a news conference earlier today, al-Hashemi stressed that he has not committed any “sins” against Iraq and described the charges against him as being “fabricated”.

Talking to reporters during a televised news conference held in the Kurdistan Region capital Erbil, the Iraqi Vice President said “I’m shocked by all of these things…I swear by God that I haven’t committed any sins or any wrongdoings against any Iraq, whether today or tomorrow, and this is my pledge to God.”

He claimed that the arrest warrant was part of a campaign to “embarrass” him and the Iraqiya bloc, saying “[Prime Minister] al-Maliki is behind the whole issue. The country is in the hands of al-Maliki. All the efforts that have been exerted to reach national reconciliation and to unite Iraq are now gone. So yes, I blame al-Maliki.”

A source close to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity yesterday, confirmed that al-Hashemi is in Kurdistan and that “it is believed that he will meet with President Talabani in the coming days.”

The source added that “al-Hashemi will be saying – for a short period of time – at the resort of Dukan [in Kurdistan], where President Talabani has his residence”

Sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Hashemi was accompanied by two others accused of being involved in terrorist attacks, in particular the recent attacks on the Iraqi parliamentary headquarters in Baghdad. The source stressed that “al-Hashemi was accompanied – in his visit to Sulaymaniyah – by two others who are seeking to escape the arrest warrants issued against them against the backdrop of the investigations that are currently being conducted under the supervision of [Iraqi Chief Justice] Medhat al-Mahmoud.”

The source also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was also accompanied by a number of other Iraqi officials, including Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, Iraqi Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi, and Iraqi Vice President Khodair al-Khozaei.

The Iraqiya bloc, which controls nine ministerial posts, strongly rejected the accusations made against al-Hashemi, boycotting parliament and government, and threatening to withdraw from Iraq’s national unity government.

The Iraqiya bloc, which holds 82 seats in the 325-member legislature, issued a statement, stressing that “we can no longer remain silent about the way the state is being administrated, as it is plunging the country into the unknown.”

The statement added “the Iraqiya bloc is suspending its participation in parliament from [last] Saturday, and calling for the opening of a round-table to find a solution that will support democracy and civil institutions.”

It continued “the Iraqiya bloc rejects the systems of policy-making that consists of ignoring other political parties, politicizing the justice system, exercising sole power, and violating the law.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday, senior Iraqiya bloc member Hamid al-Mutlaq told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Iraqiya bloc continues to exhibit self-restraint on this issue, and it hopes that it does not have to take any difficult decision in light of the current state of tension.”

Whilst the Iraqiya bloc yesterday, in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat, threatened to suspend its participation in the national unity government from today. Senior Iraqiya bloc member Nahida al-Daini told Asharq Al-Awsat that “one of the most important decisions taken by the Iraqiya bloc [today] was to suspend the participation of its minister in government…after it suspended its participation in parliament last Saturday.”

She added “the Iraqiya bloc was forced to take this decision after it demonstrated a great deal of patience for a long time over numerous arbitrary measures taken against it from its partners in the political process, and at the forefront of this is the State of Law coalition that is led by [Iraqi Prime Minister] al-Maliki.”

According to information obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, from well-informed sources, the leader of the National Iraqi Alliance, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, sought until the last moment [when the arrest warrant against al-Hashemi was issued] to postpone the special press conference held by the Iraqiya bloc during which they announced the decisions they had reached.

Al-Jaafari was reportedly seeking to convince al-Maliki to backtrack on the series of actions that have been taken against al-Hashemi.

The arrest warrant against Iraq’s highest-ranking Sunni politician has threatened Iraq’s fragile unity government.

Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, earlier this week called for urgent talks between all government parties, in order to prevent the “collapse” of the country’s national unity government. He warned that “the situation is headed towards deep crisis” adding “the ruling partnership has become threatened.”