Iraq's Leader Blames Politicians

This is a picture of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Here is what Reuters reported about him today:

Berating all the political leadership -- rather than shadowy militant groups as he has in the past -- Maliki told a brief televised news conference: "The ones who can stop a further deterioration and the bloodshed are the politicians."

But he added this could happen "only when they agree and all realize that there are no winners and losers in this battle."

"Let's be totally honest -- the security situation is a reflection of political disagreement," he said, surrounded by Sunni and Kurdish leaders as well as his fellow Shi'ites.

Maliki, a compromise choice for premier after months of wrangling earlier this year, has struggled to make an impact on either Iraq's security or economic problems.

Despite pressure from Washington, he has struggled to crack down on militias blamed by Sunni Arabs for thousands of death squad killings, and has said repeatedly his main priority is fighting a Sunni Arab insurgency and al Qaeda-linked militants.

He has promised a cabinet reshuffle, but if it is to have much impact, he will need to break the pattern of ministries being parceled out to political parties and thereafter run as fiefdoms of rival factions within the government.

Maliki is derided on the one hand in the once dominant Sunni minority as an agent of Shi'ite Iran, while fellow Shi'ite Islamists demand he do more to defend their interests against both the Sunnis and the United States.

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