(Reuters) – U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly warned top government officials that Iraq’s Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki and his policies were gravely antagonizing his country’s Sunni population, two U.S. security officials said on Friday.
The officials said the warnings were contained in secret intelligence reports and analyses presented in the last two years to policymaking officials, including President Barack Obama.
The reports concluded that Maliki and his government were creating so much animosity among Iraq’s Sunnis that this would empower and embolden violent militant groups, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Obama is sending 300 military advisers to Iraq to help stop the offensive by the Sunni militant ISIL and is demanding a more inclusive government be formed in Baghdad.
But he has stopped short of calling for the replacement of Maliki, who took over in 2006 during ferocious Sunni-Shi’ite violence three years after the U.S.-led invasion.
Intelligence agencies explicitly warned that Maliki’s policies in recent years “alienated the Sunni population and gave ISIL space to operate,” said a senior intelligence official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information.
Spy agencies also warned that Maliki was “failing to reconcile differences festering” between Iraq’s rival Muslim communities and said that all of Iraq’s leaders needed to do more to address the growing sectarian tensions, the senior intelligence official said… see more