Iraq’s delicate political balance is on the brink of collapse after the authorities issued an arrest warrant for Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi on suspicion of links to bombing attacks in the country.

The warrant was issued under anti-terrorism laws and came after the vice-president’s bodyguards, who were arrested on 19 December, accused him of financing terrorist activities. 

The Iraqi parliament will also take a vote of no confidence to suspend Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki suggested the move in a letter to parliament after Al-Mutlaq described the prime minister as a dictator.

Al-Hashemi and Al-Mutlaq are members of the Sunni Al-Iraqiya parliamentary bloc, which holds nine ministerial jobs and is now boycotting the cabinet in response.

There are now fears that these latest incidents will incite renewed sectarian violence just one day after the withdrawal of US troops.