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Allawi: Iraqi violence could 'burn up' entire region

By Michael Holmes and Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
updated 8:18 PM EST, Tue January 14, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The former prime minister takes aim at his successor, Nuri al-Maliki
  • "He doesn't believe in power sharing. He doesn't believe in reconciliation," Allawi says
  • He warns a civil war is under way in Iraq, but that it hasn't reached the point of no return
  • At least 10 people are killed and 32 wounded in Baghdad bombings Tuesday

Baghdad (CNN) -- Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has harsh words for his successor, Nuri al-Maliki.

"He doesn't believe in power sharing. He doesn't believe in reconciliation. He knows very well that reconciliation will bring about radicalized democracy in this country, and it seems, he doesn't want -- he's not for democracy," Allawi told CNN in Baghdad on Tuesday.

He said the result of such a position is breaking the country apart, allowing forces of extremism to flourish.

"Unfortunately, the country is moving on a sectarian route now, which was very dangerous to start with in the very beginning. And I warned all the leaders in the world and the region that unless this is averted, then Iraq really is on the -- has started a civil war, but hasn't reached the point of no return.

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"Once they reach the point of no return then, unfortunately, all the whole region will burn up," he said.

The war in Syria and sectarian tensions have played a part in the recent surge in violence in Iraq. The United Nations said 2013 was the deadliest year in Iraq since 2008, with almost 8,000 people killed, most of them civilians.

Critics of Iraq's current government argue that al-Maliki failed to usher in a political era of inclusion and reconciliation, as promised.

They say the Sunni minority, which ruled Iraq via the iron fist of Saddam Hussein, is at the political and social mercy of al-Maliki's Shia-dominated government.

Today, they say, "inclusiveness" never materialized, Sunnis have been marginalized and resentment has festered in a divide-and-conquer political climate. As one local put it, "It's like if you're against us, you're a terrorist and we'll arrest you."

This resentment, aided by the violent government shutdown of Sunni protest camps, provided an opening for the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to move into the Sunni heartland of Anbar Province in force.

When asked about the United States' backing of al-Maliki's government, Allawi stressed that such support should be qualified.

"It's up to them," he said. "But they should also clarify to Maliki that their support is conditional, on inclusivity of the political process, and respecting the Constitution, and respecting human rights."

The former prime minister spoke the same day police officials reported at least 10 people were killed and 32 wounded in bombings in the nation's capital.

The deadliest attack was in western Baghdad's Ghazaliyah neighborhood, where a car bomb detonated in the evening, killing at least six people and wounding 13.

Earlier, a car bomb exploded in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite area of Sadr City, killing at least four people and wounding 10.

At least nine people were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite district of Kadhimiya.

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