Just when the honeymoon with the Sunnis was going so well. Blue-Thumbed Iraqi Jeffersonians Update: “Sunni leaders angry over arrest warrant,” by Kim Gamel for Associated Press, with thanks to Special Guest:
BAGHDAD – Iraqi commandos raided the home of a Sunni Cabinet member Tuesday after a warrant was issued for his arrest, outraging Sunni politicians and jeopardizing U.S.-backed reconciliation efforts within the Shiite-led government.
The move against Culture Minister Asad Kamal al-Hashimi came after he was identified by two suspected militants as the mastermind of a Feb. 8, 2005, ambush against secular politician Mithal al-Alusi, an Iraqi government spokesman said. Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed.
“The two who planned and carried out the killings of Mithal al-Alusi’s two sons confessed that they took orders from him,” Ali al-Dabbagh said. The spokesman said al-Hashimi was a mosque imam at the time.
Well then, he couldn’t have done it. He must, as everyone knows, be a man of peace.
Al-Hashimi was not at home when the security forces staged the pre-dawn raid and detained some 40 of his guards. Muhanad al-Essawi, a spokesman for the main Sunni parliamentary bloc, said the minister was being kept in an undisclosed safe place in Baghdad and that Sunni politicians were asking the government to close the case.
Al-Hashimi is the first serving Cabinet minister to face arrest. The deputy health minister was arrested in February for alleged ties to Shiite militiamen.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has promised not to let political or sectarian considerations stop him from cracking down on violence. But the move threatened to set back efforts to bring the disaffected Sunni minority into the political process, a step the U.S. says is key to stem support for the insurgency and enable American troops to go home.
Al-Hashimi’s party, the Congress of the People of Iraq, condemned the arrest warrant and warned the government to avoid “playing with fire” by “fabricating lies to exclude Sunni politicians and officials from the Iraqi arena.”