Hashemi laments lack of support from Talabani in his rift with Iraqi government

May 17, 2012, Thursday/ 15:49:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi has lamented that President Jalal Talabani did not support him after Iraqi authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of terrorism in a case he says is politically motivated.

Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey, said in an interview with the Cihan news agency that Talabani was not as supportive as Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. Talabani, an ethnic Kurd like Barzani, is the founder of one of Iraq's two main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

“I hope Talabani will display the same stance shown by Barzani. This has not happened so far but I still hope it will,” Hashemi was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Hashemi first took refuge in the Kurdish-run northern Iraq before he eventually flew to Turkey. He says he is in Turkey to receive medical treatment.

Hashemi is accused of forming Sunni death squads and playing a role in several bombings, assassinations and other attacks between 2005 and 2011. But critics say the case is an attempt by Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to monopolize power and it has fueled Kurdish and Sunni resentments towards the Shiite-led government.

Earlier this week, Hashemi's former bodyguards testified at a Baghdad court where Hashemi faced trial in absentia that they were ordered to kill security officials and plant roadside bombs.

Hashemi dismissed the charges once again, saying that his bodyguards were forced to accept the charges under torture. If Iraqi authorities want a fair trial, they should allow the hearings to be held in a province other than Baghdad, he said.

The court case against Hashemi also strained ties between the Iraqi government and Turkey. Earlier this month, Interpol issued a "red notice" for Hashemi, but Turkey has said it has no plans to send the Sunni leader back to Iraq.

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