BAGHDAD: United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Iraqi leaders to address the “root causes” of a surge in bloodshed as security forces clashed on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) with gunmen in violence-racked Anbar province.
But Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, standing next to Ban at a joint news conference, insisted the Anbar unrest was not due to internal problems, and that dialogue with militants was not an option.
The UN chief’s visit to Baghdad comes just months ahead of general elections, at a time when Iraq is suffering its worst spate of unrest since 2008 and on a day when attacks killed 23 people.
Militants hold an entire city and parts of another on Baghdad’s doorstep—the first time they have exercised such open control in major cities since the insurgency that followed the 2003 United States (US)-led invasion.
“I would urge the leaders of the country . . . to address the root causes of the problems,” Ban said.
“They should ensure that there is nobody left behind. There should be political cohesion” and “social cohesion, and political dialogue, inclusive dialogue.”