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Is Civil War About to Return to Iraq?

A Sunni member of Iraq’s parliament was assassinated by a suicide bomber today, just two days after a failed roadside bomb attack, apparently aimed at the finance minister (also Sunni). The AP reports:

The governor of Anbar province, Qassim al-Fahdawi, said that lawmaker Ifan Saadoun was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up in the restive city of Fallujah.

The attack comes two days after a convoy carrying Iraq’s Sunni finance minister, Rafia al-Issawi, was struck by a bomb as he traveled to the city. Al-Issawi hails from the same tribe and is from the same political bloc as the lawmaker.

This is bad news for Iraq and for the Middle East in general. “Blowing up Sunni MP Ayfan Issawi 2 days after attempt on Finance Min Rafi Issawi suggests someone wants war. Iraq looking very wobbly,” tweeted Washington Post correspondent Liz Sly.

Over the past few weeks tens of thousands of Sunni protestors have been out on the streets of Anbar province and elsewhere to voice anger at Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who they say is becoming a dictator and restricting their rights.

Very wobbly indeed. As Henri Barkey wrote for the AI recently, Iraq may ultimately break up into autonomous or independent regions. That would surely not be an entirely peaceful process. With things as tense as they are now, even if the country holds together the near future is likely to be marked by political assassinations, protest campaigns, and even war.

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