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Iraqi protestors block highway to Jordan, Syria

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 23, 2012 at 9:06 am •  Published: December 23, 2012
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Demonstrators leveled harsh charges against the government.

"The injustice has reached its highest levels," said one demonstrator, who gave only his nickname, Abu Nouri, for security reasons. "Nouri al-Maliki is doing nothing for Iraqis," he said. "He's only busy removing political rivals from his path in the name of democracy and law."

"Why doesn't al-Maliki go after criminals and outlaws among the Shiites who sit in parliament and government, and are well-known for their atrocities over the years?" said another protester, who called himself Abu Omar al-Falluji, using a nickname for security reasons. "The answer is clear. He wants to shut the mouths that criticize him to turn this country into a pure Shiite one affiliated to Iran," he charged.

Fallujah, a former insurgent stronghold, is located 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad.

The case of al-Issawi will likely fuel the simmering political infighting over power sharing in post-Saddam Iraq.

On Friday, Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq threatened that his Iraqiya bloc could withdraw from the political process altogether if lawmakers and independent bodies are not allowed to monitor the investigation involving al-Issawi's staff.

The arrests came a year after the government arrested nearly 70 bodyguards assigned to Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism-related charges. Then al-Hashemi himself was convicted of orchestrating death squads, a charge he dismissed as politically motivated.

Iraqi courts have since handed down multiple death sentences against him. He now lives in neighboring Turkey.

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Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad contributed.