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As the next national elections approach, officially scheduled for April 30, 2014, Iraq finds itself embroiled in another political and military impasse similar to those of 2004 and the sectarian bloodshed of 2006 .And perhaps because of these difficult circumstances, Maliki seems set to win a third term.The enduring alienation of the Sunni population, which is still a fundamental point of contention, has worsened in the past few years due to Maliki's overtly sectarian rhetoric and policies, as well as his targeted maneuvers against Sunni politicians.Indeed, renewed violence over the last three months, the absence of Sunni unity (some tribes are even calling for a boycott of the elections), and the fragmentation of the Shiite political landscape (Moqtada al-Sadr announced his withdrawal from politics in February) all create favorable conditions for another term for Maliki.In a context of security vacuum, Maliki depicts himself as the only viable and legitimate leader for the country, the "strong man" that Iraqis need. During his visit to Washington in January, parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, himself a Sunni, emphasized how deteriorating security conditions will likely be used by Maliki to postpone the elections in some provinces (voter ID cards have not yet been distributed by the electoral commission in Anbar) and further sideline the Sunnis while ensuring his re-election.
Iraq’s Sunnis fight marginalization
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