Sectarian Maliki can save his country only by resigning

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US Secretary of State John Kerry with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani. Photo: Reuters

By John Irvine, ITV News Senior International Correspondent

The only way the Iraqi Prime Minister can save his country is by resigning. Nouri al-Malaki’s pro-Shia sectarian rule created the climate in which the Sunni radicals of Isis have thrived.

Iraq is made up of three main groups, the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds. The last two don’t like Malaki and if fighting for Iraq means fighting for a government led by him then they’ll be reluctant to do it. And it is quite clear by now that Shia forces can’t do it alone.

Shiite volunteers have been joining the Iraqi army to fight the Sunni militia, but they are being overwhelmed.
Shiite volunteers have been joining the Iraqi army to fight the Sunni militia, but they are being overwhelmed. Credit: Reuters

US Secretary of State John Kerry has come to Iraqi Kurdistan to try to persuade the Kurds not to give up on Iraq.

The Kurds enjoy a level of autonomy that has put them at odds with Baghdad and relations between the Kurdish leadership and Malaki are frosty.

Read more: After 11 years Iraqi sectarian hatred has been rekindled

The Kurds are proud of the role they played in putting Iraq back together again in the post-Saddam years but there are signs they are reluctant to try to do so again. They may already have decided that the Iraq we knew as a nation state is now a lost cause.

But the Kurds now have a 600-mile border with Isis held territory and may end up fighting for Iraq inadvertently.

For the time being Isis is focusing on fighting the Baghdad government, but they know no boundaries and will mount an assault against the Kurds eventually.

The Kurds will probably be asking the Americans for newer weapons with which to fight the battle yet to come. If they get those and a new political dispensation in Baghdad, which they regard as admirable, then they may yet fight to save Iraq.