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Gates Says al-Qaeda in Iraq Seizes on Anti-Sunni Maliki

Al-Qaeda affiliates in Iraq have exploited Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s antagonism toward Sunnis, fueling an escalating conflict, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

Maliki “has turned out to be far less inclusive and more of a sectarian leader then we had hoped” after the U.S. “handed the Iraqis a golden opportunity in 2009, 2010,” Gates said today in an interview in New York. “Since then, he’s really been sort of antagonistic towards the Sunnis in a kind of unrelenting way.”