Al-Maliki warns that federal regions could lead to Iraq breakup, strife

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned that carving up Iraq into self-ruled regions could lead to more strife and the country's breakup. Al-Maliki, a Shiite, also accused the country's Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of impeding the political process, saying he was to blame for a backlog of draft laws adopted by parliament but not yet ratified by the three-man presidential council of which he is a member. He said al-Hashemi's Iraq Accordance Front, parliament's largest Sunni Arab bloc with 44 of the house's 275 seats, did not represent the country's Sunni Arab minority and that he had given up on the bloc's five Cabinet ministers returning to his 18-month-old government. He said he planned to replace the five who quit in August to protest al-Maliki's policies with candidates from the Sunni Anbar province and the cities of Tikrit and Mosul.