Tariq al-Hashimi, Iraq's vice president, on Wednesday slammed al-Maliki's order of lifting checkpoints around the predominantly Shia neighbourhood.

 

Al-Hashimi said: "Those checkpoints were installed according Baghdad security plan, and was approved by all government components. By lifting them, the prime minister is acting alone without consulting his partners in the government who were involved in the process."

 

He said that the move would ease the "movement of terrorists" to and from al-Sadr City, which is the main stronghold of al-Mahdi Army, a militia loyal to the Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

 

Threat

Al-Maliki ordered the lifting of
checkpoints around al-Sadr City 

Al-Hashimi who heads the Iraqi Islamic party, threatened to resign and withdraw from the political process if the Iraqi parties are not given a real say in Iraq's affairs.

 

US forces besieged al-Sadr City last week in pursuit of a captured US soldier, but the siege and the checkpoints installed by Iraqi and US forces were lifted on al-Maliki's orders.

 

Al-Maliki claimed the reason for his orders was to ease the traffic in al-Sadr City.

 

Resentment

Adnan al-Dulaimi, head of Iraqi Accordance, the biggest Sunni Arab bloc in the parliament, voiced resentment at al-Maliki's orders and said the government is applying "double standards", by moving quickly when it concerns the Shia population.   

 

"The government moved very quickly because it is about al-Sadr City, but we do not hear a word when Sunni districts are bombed and their inhabitants are killed and humiliated.

 

"We feel the same pain when we see any Iraqi neighbourhood being attacked, whether Sunni, Shia, or Kurd, but it seems the government does not hold the same sentiment. We appeal to prime minister to look at Iraqis equally," al-Dulaimi said.