Al-Hashemi initially sought refuge in Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region, away from security forces controlled by the central government, and later traveled to neighboring Turkey, where he remains. The Kurds’ and Turks’ willingness to offer him shelter has helped sour Baghdad’s relations with both.
Other Iraqi officials also have been pushed from their posts amid allegations of wrongdoing, including the respected governor of the central bank, Sinan al-Shabibi. Critics see the moves as an effort by al-Maliki to marginalize perceived opponents. The government denies any such motive.
Ethnic tensions, meanwhile, are bubbling back to the surface. The Kurds, a different ethnic group from Iraq’s majority Arabs, last month sent additional troops to fortify their positions in disputed areas bordering the Kurds’ largely autonomous northern enclave.
Both sides have agreed to withdraw their forces eventually. Still to be resolved are deeply entrenched disputes over the contested areas as well as how to share wealth and manage oil resources.
Securing Iraq, as always, remains a challenge as well. Although the bloodshed is not so rampant as it was during its peak in 2006 to 2007, deadly attacks against civilians remain painfully common. Iraqi security forces still struggle to gather intelligence on militants and prevent attacks — a task made harder without help from the U.S. military.
While many Iraqis were happy to see U.S. forces leave their country after eight long years, some say they now regret that the American soldiers departed when they did.
‘‘We now wish that the Americans would have not left us so soon,’’ said Ibrahim Karim, a 35-year-old government employee in Baghdad. ‘‘The Americans left Iraq as a playground for neighboring countries and full of chaos and violence.’’
On Monday alone, a wave of bombings struck a number of targets, including areas disputed by Arabs and Kurds, killing at least 25 people.
Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed reporting.
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