By Mick Krever, CNN
With Sunni extremists grabbing up Iraqi territory and now just 40 miles from the capital, a spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, defended the leader against claims of irreversible polarization.
“Prime Minister Maliki has never been a sectarian,” Zuhair al-Naher, Spokesman for the Iraqi Prime Minister's Islamic Dawa Party, told CNN’s Hala Gorani – in for Christiane Amanpour – on Tuesday.
“I am not saying that Maliki is faultless. Iraq is a difficult country to run. It is difficult to include everyone perfectly and keep them happy.”
“There are grievances. It’s not just the Sunnis who have grievances. Shiites have grievances. The Turkmen have grievances. But that does not give an excuse to have people occupying cities and murdering.”
But al-Naher also made sure to mention that while Sunnis do represent “approximately twenty to twenty-five percent” of the country, it was the “Sunni leadership” of Saddam Hussein’s regime that “led Iraq and who terrorized Iraq for thirty years.”
“This is not a sectarian dispute. This is not a Shiite/Sunni dispute. The ISIS terrorists have been killing Sunnis as well as Shiites in Mosul.”
The Iraqi government, he said, is calling on Western air support to aid its fight against ISIS.
“What we want at the moment is air power, air support, to bombard the areas of these terrorists.”