By Justin Sink - 06/17/14 07:53 PM EDT
Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is a ‘failed leader’ who has exacerbated sectarian divisions within his country, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday.
“If I were an Iraqi of whatever persuasion, I would be thinking hard about do I want Maliki to continue being the prime minister,” Clinton said during an interview with Fox News. “He has failed as a leader. He has purged the military of some of their strongest leaders, he has rearranged the government and gone after Sunnis who were willing to work with him.”
“If there’s going to be a real stand against these extremists… there has to be a different government, and I don’t think Maliki is the person to lead Iraq,” Clinton said.
Clinton added that it was “too soon to tell” whether the U.S. was losing the gains it had made during the Iraq war. She said the U.S. would need to force Maliki to do “what we’ve been trying to get him to do for the last several years - an inclusive government where Sunnis feel they have a stake, as well as Shiites.”
Maliki has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks as Sunni fighters swept across Iraq’s northern regions, capturing some of the country’s largest cities. President Obama has said he will not order the U.S. military to help the Maliki government fight the al Qaeda affiliated militias unless Baghdad does more to include Sunni leaders in the government.
Clinton was also asked about her reaction to the recent controversial prisoner swap, in which five Taliban fighters were exchanged for captured Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal.
Clinton said during her tenure at the State Department, she was attempting to “put together a bigger deal” to secure Berghdal’s release.
She said her proposal would “create a negotiation between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to try to move the Taliban to renounce violence, renounce al Qaeda and agree to support the constitution and the laws.”
But, Clinton continued, it appeared based on comments from current Obama Administration officials that they could not wait for a broader deal to materialize and that it was “ imperative to try to get Berghdahl out.”