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Crisis summit aims to save Iraq's Maliki

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If the summit does take place this week (it was previously planned and then canceled, and the government is currently on a month-long break), it will come in the shadow of the worst coordinated suicide attack since November 2006. On Tuesday night, as many as five truck bombs struck densely populated parts of two villages in northwest Iraq, near the Syrian border. The blasts killed more than 250 people in areas of ethnic Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking sect. The US military said it suspects Al Qaeda in Iraq was responsible for the attack.

Maliki is scheduled to visit Syria this coming Monday. Iraq's neighbor is indeed home to many insurgency leaders and backers.

Harith al-Dhari, who lives in Syria and heads the pro-insurgency Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told Al Jazeera television Wednesday that Washington was making a mistake by backing Maliki. He said it was time to correct that and reform the whole process.

"If the Americans continue to depend on the political process [that] they devised and they continue to use the same politicians that have proven their failure, then they will fail," he said. "But if they start thinking of an alternative that relies on wisdom and force to correct the situation, then they can leave Iraq in peace and in a face-saving way."

Baghdad-based political scientist Wamidh Nadhmi is not optimistic that the crisis meeting will have any meaningful result. The problem, he says, is that the current leaders, on whom the Americans are pinning their hopes, came to power based on a sectarian blueprint devised by Washington.

"America is asking them now to abandon their sectarianism, but they came to power depending on sectarian lists," says Mr. Nadhmi.

In a sign of growing US frustration and impatience over the government standstill, US officials here recently asked former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite, to join a new coalition that would bolster Maliki's government. Mr. Allawi said he refused the offer in a television interview last week with Asharqiya. The US embassy declined comment on this.

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