Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki told demonstrators on Wednesday to stop their protests or face government action, contending that the protests were being hijacked by groups to harm the national interest. Demonstrations against his Shiite-dominated government erupted on Dec. 21 after a raid by security forces on the office and home of the Sunni finance minister, Rafie al-Issawi, and the arrest of 10 bodyguards. Last week, thousands of Sunni Muslims took to the streets again, blocking Iraq's main road and trade link to Syria and Jordan. Mr. Maliki told Iraqi state television that some of the protesters' demands were legitimate, like calls for jobs. But he added that the government had been patient long enough, and that protests should not continue indefinitely. In a statement from his office on Wednesday, Mr. Maliki said that "the enemies of the political process, the armed terrorist groups and the remnants of the former regime" were being given a chance to infiltrate the demonstrations, threatening national unity.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.