Iraq threatens to split apart amid sectarian tensions and increasing violence. Sunni tribal leaders in the primarily Sunni western provinces of Iraq are demanding the division of the country into a federation amid rising sectarian violence.
Their demands are the latest in an increasingly volatile situation.
Last week, the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat reported the tribes and political parties in northern Iraq's Kirkuk province stated that electing a replacement for ailing Iraqi President Jalal Talabani would send Iraq back into "endless" crisis.
The Iraqi president, an ethnic Kurd, has been respected for his non-sectarian approach, but Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has been noteworthy in his call for replacement. Sunnis have felt alienated by the Shiite majority since U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led government in 2003.
Bombings across Iraq left over 70 people dead and more than 248 others injured on Monday. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the al-Qaida affiliated Islamic State of Iraq has been targeting Shiites in hopes of stoking a wider sectarian conflict.
This marks the worst sectarian violence since U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011.
During 2006-2007, at the height of Sunni-Shiite fighting, Iraq's al-Anbar province was largely controlled by al-Qaida's Iraqi affiliate, but the Sunni tribes banded together with U.S. troops, forming the Awakening (Sahwa) militia, to beat them back.
The militia is now paid by the Iraqi government and has been targeted by militants for co-operating with the Shiite-led government. Three militia members were killed in a car bomb explosion as they collected their salaries Monday, and a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Sahwa checkpoint in Bahji, about 100 miles north of Baghdad.
Late last month, Sunni protesters in al-Anbar announced their formation of a militia called the Army of Pride and Dignity amid escalating sectarian tensions, causing some to say Iraq was becoming like neighboring Syria.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has indicated a willingness to contemplate granting autonomy to the Sunni majority western provinces. Sunnis began demonstrating against al-Maliki in December, accusing him of marginalizing them.
Maliki responded to the violence, saying that the militants were trying to "bring back the atmosphere of the sectarian war."