Erdoğan tells Iraq’s Allawi concerned over possible chaos

January 12, 2012, Thursday/ 23:31:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has told the leader of Iraq's cross-sectarian Iraqiya bloc that he is concerned about possible chaos in Iraq caused by anti-democratic and sectarian approaches as part of his shuttle diplomacy among Iraqi politicians.

The Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday that Erdoğan warned during talks with Ayad Allawi that escalating tensions in the wartorn country could result in a civil war that has regional repercussions.

Talks with Allawi follow the prime minister's phone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki a day earlier in which Erdoğan told his Iraqi counterpart to take steps to reduce tensions in Iraq following a series of bombings in Baghdad after Maliki issued an arrest warrant for one of his Sunni vice presidents last month.

Many attacks in recent days in Iraq have targeted the country's Shiite majority, increasing fears of a serious outbreak of sectarian violence following the withdrawal of US troops last month.

Large-scale sectarian fighting pushed the country to the brink of civil war in 2006-2007. Well-armed Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias continue to operate in the country.

The increase in violence comes as Iraq's leaders remain locked in a political crisis that is stoking tensions between the Shiite majority now in power and the country's Sunnis, who benefited most from ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's rule.

The leaders of Iraq's rival sects have been locked in a standoff since last month, when the Shiite-dominated government called for Tariq al-Hashimi's arrest on terrorism charges, just as the last American troops were completing their withdrawal from the country. Hashimi, Iraq's highest-ranking Sunni politician, remains holed up in the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the north, out of reach of state security forces.

Erdoğan also reiterated the importance of restoring trust and dialogue between both sides, and said Iraqiya has great responsibilities in the face of this difficult period in Iraq.

The Turkish prime minister also stressed during his conversation with Allawi that Turkey wants to see the Iraqi people living in peace, democracy, stability and prosperity and that his country will support all politicians who serve this goal.

Anatolia reported that Allawi welcomed Erdoğan's comments.

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