File - In this Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki meets with Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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Over the years that followed, Sunni tribes backed by the Americans rose up to fight Al-Qaeda-linked militants, while Maliki showed a readiness to rein in Shiite militiamen – and by 2008, the violence had eased.Since the withdrawal of American forces in late 2011, however, it has swelled again, stoked in part by Maliki himself. Shiite politicians familiar with the secretive efforts to remove Maliki said two names mentioned as possible replacements are former Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a French-educated economist who is also a Shiite, and Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who served as Iraq's first prime minister after Saddam's ouster.Zamili belongs to a political bloc loyal to anti-U.S. sheikh Muqtada al-Sadr, who has publicly demanded that Maliki be replaced. But, he said, efforts to replace Maliki should come only after Iraqi security forces beat back the Sunni militants. Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region, put the case against Maliki much more emphatically.Despite the conciliatory words, Maliki is not known to have made any concrete offers to bridge differences with the Sunnis, the Kurds or even his fellow Shiites.
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