Religious unity urged in Anbar as Shiite leader visits

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Iraq’s Shiites account for about 60 percent of the population, while the Sunni Arabs and the mostly Sunni Kurds make up most of the remainder. Al-Hakim, son and heir apparent of Iraq’s top Shiite politician, struck a note of national unity in Anbar, where a tribal revolt has significantly reduced violence in the vast province and inspired similar uprisings against al-Qaida elsewhere in central Iraq and Baghdad. Al-Maliki’s government has grudgingly supported the uprisings, but has expressed concern that the new Sunni militias must operate under its control. “Iraq does not belong to the Sunnis or the Shiites alone; nor does it belong to the Arabs or the Kurds and Turkomen,” al-Hakim told his hosts in the provincial capital Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad. “Today, we must stand up and declare that Iraq is for all Iraqis.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BAGHDAD – In a major reconciliatory gesture, a leader from Iraq’s largest Shiite party paid a rare visit Sunday to the Sunni Anbar province, delivering a message of unity to tribal sheiks who have staged a U.S.-backed revolt against al-Qaida militants. Ammar al-Hakim’s visit was the latest sign that key Iraqi politicians may be working toward reconciliation independently of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government, which has faced criticism for doing little to iron out differences among the country’s Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis. Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi visited Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, last month at the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad. The visit amounted to an unprecedented Sunni Arab endorsement of al-Sistani’s role as the nation’s guardian. Al-Hashemi’s Iraqi Islamic Party also has been distancing itself from militant Sunni Arab groups and has in recent months forged closer ties with al-Hakim’s Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, the country’s largest Shiite party, and the two major Kurdish parties. last_img read more