In an interview to the U.S.-owned Al Hurrah television, Al Nujaifi said
Sunnis felt like second-class citizens in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. His warning of secession has
sparked criticism within his Iraqiya bloc, headed by former Prime Minister
Iyad Alawi and regarded as winner of parliamentary elections in 2010.
The Sunni threat has been taken seriously by Al Maliki. On July 7, the
prime minister, who addressed Sunni tribes, said any secession from Iraq
would result in bloodshed.
"Whether you want to form [autonomy] or separate, I say show mercy to
the Iraqi people and the unity of Iraq," Maliki said. "Because if this
happens, people will fight each other and blood will reach to the knee."
Officials acknowledged that the Baghdad government has lost control over
much of the Sunni community, particularly in the western province of Anbar.
They said Sunni tribes in Anbar were being supported by neighboring Jordan
and Saudi Arabia.
"Our problem in this country is that we do not consider each other as
partners," Al Maliki said. "Let's do that, and the problem will be ended.
Not accepting others as partners intensifies the situation and threatens the
unity of Iraq."