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As US troops exit Iraq, Maliki moves against Sunni rivals

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Hashimi and several other Sunni politicians were about to fly to Kurdistan Sunday evening for dinner with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani when Maliki's head of military intelligence ordered them not to depart. According to one account, from a leading politician who declined to be identified due the sensitivity of the issue, Hashimi, vice premier Saleh al-Mutlaq, and Finance Minister Rafie al-Essawi were already aboard the plane when they were ordered to disembark.

According to another account, from a source in the Interior Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to be quoted, the entire airport was shut down while the men were detained. Hashimi was told that the authorities had no direct case against him, but were prepared to charge that he had been an accomplice in smuggling some of the assassins out of Baghdad. Security authorities arrested two of Hashimi's bodyguards, the Interior Ministry official said.

After a flurry of phone calls involving political figures from nearly every party, Maliki relented and allowed the men to continue the journey.

It was unclear whether Hashimi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, could in fact be arrested, unless the Iraqi parliament first strips him of immunity. But if the accounts are correct that some of his security guards confessed to taking part in the assassinations of prominent Shiites, his days in national politics may be numbered.

Maliki moves for vote of no confidence against Sunni rival

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