BAGHDAD - The head of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya political bloc said Iraq "stands on the brink of disaster" and issued a list of demands on Wednesday in a political crisis triggered by charges against a Sunni leader.
Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi, in an editorial for the New York Times, said Iraq was heading towards a "sectarian autocracy that carries with it the threat of devastating civil war."
Sectarian tensions are running high in Iraq ten days after the last U.S. troops pulled out. Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, accused of running death squads.
The commentary, co-authored by Iraqiya officials Osama al-Nujaifi, the parliament speaker, and Rafie al-Esawi, the finance minister, said bloc leaders were being "hounded and threatened by Mr. Maliki, who is attempting to drive us out of Iraqi political life and create an authoritarian one-party state."
The political crisis, Iraq's worst in a year, threatens Maliki's fragile year-old coalition government, an alliance of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs.