Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi traveled to the Kurdish north in December just as the last American troops were leaving the country and charges against him were being drawn up.

The government accuses him of running a hit squad that assassinated government and security officials years ago — allegations he denies. Fellow Sunnis, who made up the dominant political class under Saddam Hussein, see the charges as part of an effort to sideline them…

As long as al-Hashemi remains a guest of his boss, Iraq’s Kurdish President Jalal Talabani, he is effectively out of Baghdad’s reach.

Hameed declined to say if the Kurds would comply with the Interior Ministry request, citing the sensitivity of the issue.