The Iraqi political bloc led by anti-American Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a call to dissolve Iraq’s parliament and hold early elections, in a move that could escalate the country’s growing sectarian crisis. The Sadrists said Monday that new elections are the only way to resolve Iraq’s deepening political problems because the current government “cannot find solutions” for the issues that “threaten to divide” the country.
Tensions are rising after Iraq’s Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi on suspicion of running a death squad. Hashemi denies the charge and fled to northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region to avoid detention. Mr. Maliki also asked parliament to fire Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. The political crisis comes amid a wave of attacks on the capital, Baghdad, by suspected al-Qaida-linked Sunni extremists.