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Sec. Clinton to Iraq: "Don't Blow This Opportunity"

"Iraq is now a democracy, but they need to act like one"

Common Dreams staff

Residents carry the coffin of a victim of Friday's bombing in Baghdad's Zaafaraniya neighbourhood (Reuters)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the Town Hall meeting on the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in Washington, DC yesterday.

Responding to a question on what the U.S. would do to ensure that Iraqi security and democracy and stability continue, Sec. Clinton said:

The United States, led by our very able, experienced Ambassador Jim Jeffrey... is constantly, along with his able team, reaching out, meeting with, cajoling, pushing the players, starting with Prime Minister Maliki, not to blow this opportunity. Let me just be very clear: This is an opportunity for the Iraqi people of all areas of Iraq, of all religious affiliation, of all backgrounds – this is an opportunity to have a unified Iraq, and the only way to do that is by compromising. [...]

But at the end of the day, Iraq is now a democracy, but they need to act like one, and that requires compromise.

* * *

On Monday a report from Human Rights Watch stated that the human rights situation in Iraq is worse now than it was a year ago. From the report:

“Iraq is quickly slipping back into authoritarianism as its security forces abuse protesters, harass journalists, and torture detainees,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Despite U.S. government assurances that it helped create a stable democracy, the reality is that it left behind a budding police state.”

* * *

In signs of ongoing violence in the country, agencies are reporting that at least 32 people have died in Baghdad this morning from a blast targeting a funeral procession.

Al Jazeera reports:

Dozens dead in Baghdad blast

Police officials said the blast occurred on Friday morning in the mostly Shia neighborhood of Zafaraniyah, where mourners had gathered for the funeral of Mohammed al-Maliki, a real-estate agent who was killed along with his wife and son a day earlier.

They said 65 people were wounded in the explosion, including 16 officers, which struck as the procession was transporting Maliki's body for the funeral services.

Hospital officials confirmed the death toll, and said that at least four of those killed were women. [...]

Friday's attack brings the death toll from a wave of attacks since the beginning of the year to more than 200. The attacks raise concerns that the surge in violence and an escalating political crisis might deteriorate into a civil war.

The Shia-led government often blames Sunni fighters for attacks targeting Shias, saying they are trying to stoke the kind of sectarian slaughter which killed tens of thousands of Iraqis at the peak of the war in 2006-2007.

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