Masum Meets with Maliki, Nujaifi separately

BAGHDAD / NINA / President Fuad Masum discussed with his two deputies Nuri al-Maliki and Osama al-Nujaifi separately political and security situation in the country and the importance of forming the government in the current circumstances.

A presidential statement said that Masum received today his first deputy Nuri al-Maliki and reviewed with him the political and security situation in the country and the importance of forming a government in this circumstance which requires the synergy of all.”

The statement said that “the President congratulated al-Maliki for choosing him as vice president, wishing him success in the exercise of his duties.”

President of the Republic, Fuad Masum met his Vice Osama al-Nujaifi.

A presidential statement cited that “they reviewed the political and security situation in the country and the importance of forming the government in this circumstance that requires a synergy of everyone, congratulated him for choosing him as vice president, wishing him success in the exercise of his duties” .

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Allawi, Nujaifi and Maliki Offered Iraq VP Posts

Baghdad — Iraq’s outgoing prime minister and speaker of parliament have been offered the posts of vice president, along with Iraqiya bloc leader Iyad Allawi, as Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi seeks to announce a new government before a September 10 deadline.

In addition to Allawi, outgoing PM Maliki, who is the head of Abadi’s own State of Law coalition, as well as former speaker Osama Al-Nujaifi, head of the Sunni-majority Mutahidoun coalition, have been offered the largely ceremonial posts of vice president, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Iraq traditionally has three vice presidents; a Sunni, a Shi’ite and a Kurd. If all three candidates accept, Iraq’s Presidency Council would be missing a Kurdish representative; Allawi and Maliki are Shi’ites while Nujaifi is a Sunni. Iraq’s President, Fuad Massoum, is a Kurd, as is traditional according to the post-Saddam sectarian power-sharing system.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat Iraqiya bloc MP Maysoon Al-Damluji said: “Allawi has agreed to assume the post of Vice President on the condition that he is given broad powers, particularly within the framework of achieving national reconciliation, the dossier he has been tasked with overseeing.”

“National reconciliation has been one of the major problems facing the country over the past years . . .that led Iraq to the situation it is facing today,” she added.

The Iraqiya bloc MP defended Allawi’s conditions in the face of accusations of brinkmanship, maintaining that the moderate Shi’ite figure has a “comprehensive [national reconciliation] project,” and is “accepted by everyone.”

The Iraqiya bloc will also be given two ministerial portfolios by Abadi, however negotiations are ongoing regarding which ministries and ministers will be appointed.

Sources close to Abadi informed Asharq Al-Awsat that certain political parties are seeking to impede the formation of a new government by putting forward unreasonable demands, with the prime minister-designate under increased pressure to announce a cabinet before the deadline next week.

Iraq’s Sunni community, largely political disenfranchised under the Maliki administration, have called for Abadi to offer them “guarantees” before they will agree to join his government. Abadi had pledged to form a national unity government that includes all segments of Iraqi society, particularly the Sunnis and Kurds.

Sunni Iraqi Forces Alliance MP Mohammed Al-Khaledi told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The problem for us is not in the [distribution of] ministerial portfolios but in the fact that the memorandum of demands that we submitted has not been signed by the political blocs.”

The Sunni politician said there were two opposing camps within the Shi’ite-majority Iraqi National Alliance that is backing Prime Minister-designate Abadi, saying that one camp does not wish to accede to the Sunni demands.

If the conflict over Sunni demands continues within the ruling alliance, Sunnis would largely remain “unenthused about participating in the government,” Khaledi said.

Assyrian International News Agency

Maliki has been appointing positions which is unconstitutional

9-4-2014 tman23 Maliki has been appointing positions which is unconstitutional for the caretaker government, most of these positions are in the financial area, the others are military. It appears that what has been rumored is true and that Maliki may be planning a late stage attempt at a coup. We had a Tuesday Parliament session where green zone security was breached by protestors over “spyker” and they made their way inside the Parliament building, reports say many protesters were chanting Maliki as they were in support of him.

Then on Tuesday we expected to see the CBI make a move, Maliki moved as the CoM replaced Turki. Before the 9/2 I had posted where Maliki was assigning new positions for certain people which was in the area of finances… Iran, Russia, and Maliki are working hard to keep things from progressing. What is being said is…Abadi is going to cancel all orders and positions that Maliki granted after the end of the last parliment and the staart of the caretaker government.

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Millionday says Maliki is completely out.

Millionday [...is he [Maliki] completely out?] YES HE IS. I DONT BELIEVE BY WHAT I AM READING HE HAS ANY POWER OR IS BEING ABLE TO MAKE ANY DECISIONS. [Isn't he still the caretaker PM till the new one is sworn in?] OFFICIALLY WHEN THEY ARE SWORN IN TOGETHER WITH ALL MINISTERS BUT THE 15 DAYS TO SHOW CONFIDENCE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT IMO. THE NEW PM IS SHOWING CONFIDENCE. [When is the 15 days up?] I THINK THE… 22ND… [So an RV is more likely after...?] I DONT KNOW WHEN — IT IS PLANNED…THE DATE HAS NOT BEEN RELEASED…WITH HIS LACK OF POWER I WOULD SAY ANYTIME THEY WILL MOVE FORWARD WITH THE ECONOMIC REFORM.

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Maliki gives up Iraq PM job to rival

Nouri al-Maliki has in a television address announced his decision to step down as Iraq’s prime minister and endorsed Haider al-Abadi as his successor.

He said his decision was aimed at preserving the country’s “unity”.

“I announce before you today, to ease the movement of the political process and the formation of the new government, the withdrawal of my candidacy in favour of brother Dr Haider al-Abadi,” Maliki said in his Thursday address.

Maliki’s announcement came days after he refused to stand down and threatened to challenge the Iraq president’s decision to appoint Abadi as his successor.

“Maliki will withdraw the complaint against the president and will back the prime minister designate,” Ali Mussawi, Maliki’s spokesman, told the AFP news agency, referring to a lawsuit the outgoing premier had vowed to file.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Baghdad, said Maliki had become an increasingly isolated figure, even losing support from his Shia allies.

“His own party had sent a letter to Sistani asking him to step in to resolve the crisis … Sistani may have called for Maliki to step down during Friday prayers,” Khodr said, referring to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia religious leader.

President Fouad Massoum on Monday tasked Abadi, a member of Maliki’s Dawa party, with forming a new government, a move the two-term premier said was a violation of the constitution.

US praises move

Tehran and Washington, the two main foreign power brokers in Iraq, came out in support of Abadi, and he was dealt another major blow when the office of Iraq’s top Shia religious leader released a letter in which he called for Maliki to go.

“Today, Iraqis took another major step forward in uniting their country,” US national security adviser Susan Rice said in a statement praising Maliki after his announcement.

“We commend Prime Minister Maliki for his decision to support Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi in his efforts to form a new government in line with the Iraqi constitution.”

Rice said the US government, which had long lost patience with Maliki, had heard from a number of leaders in Iraq who had pledged their support to Abadi. She noted expressions of support from other countries as well.

“These are encouraging developments that we hope can set Iraq on a new path and unite its people against the threat presented by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” Rice said. “The United States remains committed to a strong partnership with Iraq and the Iraqi people.”

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AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Maliki Pledges Peaceful Fight to Retain PM Title

It’s something many academics and Maliki observers have long feared: that if cornered, Maliki would use loyalist Iraqi forces, in particular the Iraqi Special Operations Forces, to hold onto power.

Instead, The Wall Street Journal  have reported that Maliki has pledged to pursue his fight to retain the top spot through the courts, something analysts say is looking increasingly unfeasible.

Several prominent Iraq observers, including Reidar Visser and Kirk Sowell have noted for some time that Maliki’s days are well and truly numbered.

It’s an assessment which has looked increasingly sound as former Maliki loyalists have jumped ship, including some prominent ex-allies of the PM.

Furthermore, outside of Iraq both Iran and the United States have signaled their  patience with Maliki has run out, and crucially the highest clerical authority in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali-al-Sistani has signaled his discontent with the outgoing PM.

Maliki has called President Fouad Massoum’s nomination “unconstitutional” and vowed to continue holding on to the PM position, however he has noted that he will step down “for the unity of Iraq” if necessary.

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Maliki Gives Up Fight To Remain Iraqi Prime Minister

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has dropped his bid to remain in his post and will announce his support for Prime Minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi.

Iraqi TV said Maliki will make an announcement in a national television address later today.

Maliki had faced immense domestic and international pressure to step down from his office in favor of Abadi.

Abadi was nominated for prime minister by Iraqi President Fuad Masum on August 11.

But Maliki described Masum’s move as “null and void” and said he would go to court to stay in his post as he led the political bloc that won the most votes in April elections.

But there was mounting pressure from Shi’ite, Sunni, and Kurdish leaders in Iraq — including his own Dawa Party — and from several foreign leaders for Maliki to resign. 

Maliki, 64, has been prime minister since 2006.

With reporting by AFP and AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Rise of ISIS Downfall of Maliki

Maliki: just another ruler done in by paranoia and corruption. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Maliki: just another ruler done in by paranoia and corruption. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Looks like we’ll finally see the back of Nuri al-Maliki — One of the Wrongest Horses the U.S. Ever Backed. Haider al-Abadi may replace him if he can win a majority vote in Iraq’s parliament. At Politico Magazine, James Jeffrey, U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2010 to 2012, writes:

This is an extraordinary turn of events for a leader who did better than ever in the March 2014 elections, garnering a personal vote tally of 700,000, far more than any rival.

“What happened?” asks Jeffrey.

The short answer is Mosul—the fall of Iraq’s second city and almost a third of Iraq’s territory, and much of its Sunni Arab minority, to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with tens of thousands of Iraqi troops melting in the face of a few thousand well-armed but ragtag ISIL fighters.

The long answer, according to Jeffrey:

The Sunni Arabs who joined the ISIL “surge” did so because Maliki had alienated them. The army that collapsed in Mosul was led by generals chosen for their loyalty to Maliki, not for their competence. His micromanaging of military decisions due to fear of a coup, his tolerance of corruption and relative indifference to a residual U.S. military presence to help train and assess the Iraqi military—all of it contributed to the dramatic failure that we see before us now. But the core reason was Maliki’s inability to trust, to reach out to other groups and share power even within his Shia community.

Earlier this year, in the New Yorker, Dexter Filkins filed an in-depth report on Maliki. He provided an example of the resurgence in violence and how Maliki resonded. In 2011, shortly after the Americans left, he sent in troops to clear protesters from Ramadi.

Anbar Province erupted, along with the rest of Sunni Iraq, and the violence has not ceased. A wave of car bombers and suicide bombers struck Baghdad; in January, more than a thousand Iraqi civilians died, the overwhelming majority of them Shiites, making it one of the bloodiest months since the height of the American war. In the effort to put down the upheaval, Maliki ringed the province’s two largest cities, Falluja and Ramadi, with artillery and began shelling.

An example from Filkins of how Maliki has dealt with dissidents:

[Maliki’s] government responded savagely to the new round of protests. In April [of this year], after a soldier was killed in the Sunni town of Hawija, troops attacked an encampment of protesters there, killing at least forty-four people. In a televised speech, Maliki warned of a “sectarian war,” and blamed the violence on “remnants of the Baath Party.” Hundreds of Iraqis, most of them Sunni civilians, were killed as the crackdown continued.

As I wrote in the post to which I linked in the first sentence, “Maliki may not be as bad as Saddam Hussein, but he can scarcely be viewed as an improvement, only slightly less worse.” So long, Nuri. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Foreign Policy In Focus

Pressure Mounts On Iraq’s Maliki To Step Down

Pressure is building on Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to leave office hours after he said he would only exit his post if forced by a court decision.

The UN Security Council on August 13 joined a chorus of international and domestic voices praising Prime Minister-designate Haidar al-Abadi, thereby expecting Maliki to step aside.

Maliki’s Dawa Party also said in a statement on August 13 that all political blocs should “cooperate with the constitutionally designated prime minister” Abadi to allow for the quick formation of a new government. 

The UN Security Council said in a statement it is encouraged by Abadi’s nomination and urged him to “work swiftly to form such a government as quickly as possible and within the constitutional time-frame.”

It also urged “all political parties and their supporters to remain calm and respect the political process.”

Iraqi President Fuad Masum on August 11 asked Abadi, a senior Shi’ite politician, to form a new government within 30 days, as outlined in the constitution.

But Maliki said on August 13 that Abadi’s appointment was a “violation” of the constitution and “had no value.”

Iraq’s leading Shi’ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, addressed a letter to the leadership of Maliki’s Dawa party saying, “I see the need to speed up the selection of a new prime minister.”

The contents of the handwritten letter were released on August 13 by Sistani’s office, although the letter was written more than one month ago. 

The U.S. deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, on August 13 called on Maliki to step down, saying Maliki needs to allow Abadi to form a government.

Rhodes said “That is what the Iraqis themselves have decided to do.”

But Maliki said earlier on August 13 in his televised weekly address, “I confirm that the government will continue and there will not be a replacement for it without a decision from the Federal [Supreme] Court.”

Maliki, the premier since 2006, has served in a caretaker capacity since elections in April.

He has been accused of fueling sectarian violence as the country is battling an Islamist insurgency, but he has refused calls by Sunni, Kurdish, and fellow Shi’ite politicians to step down.

Iran’s Shi’ite government had previously supported Maliki, a Shi’ite, but on August 13 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threw his support behind Abadi.

Khamenei said, “I hope the designation of the new prime minister in Iraq will untie the knot and lead to the establishment of a new government and teach a good lesson to those who aim for sedition in Iraq.”

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and dpa

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Maliki urges officers and security personnel to stay away from political crisis

BAGHDAD   – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called on army officers and security personnel to stay away from political crisis and in commitment to their duties in protecting the country.

A statement by his office said today,: ” al-Maliki chaired a meeting of senior commanders and officers in the army, police and security services, and stressed during the meeting that we must protect Iraq by wisdom and fortitude.

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Signs that Maliki is leaving the IMO

Tlar: Today Maliki forced the CBI to wire transfer 328 million dollars. Another sign that he is preparing to leave the country IMO. It is now my opinion that he will run in the next 24 hours. Abadi is pushing to quickly finish building this government. He has stated he will be ready next week with his list of Ministers to take over their new positions. This list will be given to parliament and at that time they will vote to make it a government. The vote will be close or at unanimous because these guys are now for the first time all working from the same page. Even the SOL guys are working in unison with the parliament for the first time. Yesterday Abadi dismissed Maliki’s Ministers telling them they are through.

It is my belief that as soon as the new government is complete and seated, Turki will do his thing. This is what I believe and has been backed up by intel that concurred my belief. …I will hang tough on the next statement. The RV will be within three days of the government being seated and it is still $ 3.71 per dinar. I have come to this number based on 4 or 5 conversations and on experiences I have had over the last three months.

I was the biggest proponent of an 86 cent dinar on the internet. I have abandoned that number because of things that I have come to realize and things I have found out. So bless all of you for hanging tough. Maliki stood in the way of progress in Iraq and the RV. He is very close to being gone. The people in Iraq are dancing in the streets of Bagdad today chanting Bye Bye Maliki. That’s not a fantasy of mine, they really are in the streets chanting Bye Bye Maliki. This is the first time they are in the streets dancing and singing. The second time they [will] do it in a week or two from now, so will you and I. I assure you.

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Maliki stands defiant as Iraq crisis deepens

Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s incumbent prime minister, has told army officers that they should not intervene in the country’s political crisis.

The armed forces and security services must limit their role to defending the country, Maliki told a meeting of senior army, police and security officers on Tuesday.

His comments came a day after Iraqi President Fouad Massoum selected Haider al-Ibadi, the deputy speaker of parliament, to replace Maliki as prime minister.

The president gave Ibadi 30 days to present a new government to lawmakers for approval.

Ibadi’s nomination quickly received support from the Iraqi Kurdistan leader Masoud Barzani, Iran and the United States as well as Saudi Arabia, prompting Maliki to describe the nomination as a ‘violation of the constitution’.

Barzani told Joe Biden, the US vice president, that he would be willing to work with the new Iraqi leader. 

But Maliki insists that he is entitled to form the next government, and has also stressed that any violation of the constitution must be prevented.

It will be up to the judiciary to remedy the violation in line with decisions of the Federal Supreme Court, Maliki said.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf, reporting from Erbil, said that it was clear that the support was going to the PM designate.

Without any question, we are prepared to consider additional political, economic and security options as Iraq starts to build a new government

John Kerry

On the question over Maliki’s claims that the nomination violated the consitition, Arraf said the “problem with the constitution is that it is quite flexible and many people have different interpretations.”

On Tuesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was “imperative” that Iraqi security forces stayed out of the political process leading to the formation of a new government. 

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Iraq’s new leaders to work quickly to form an inclusive government and said the US was now prepared to offer the new government significant additional aid in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Kerry said the US “stands ready to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government” and called on Prime Minister designate Haider al-Ibadi “to form a new cabinet as swiftly as possible.”

According to Kerry, Washington would be ready “to fully support a new and inclusive Iraqi government, particularly in its fight against ISIL.”

“Without any question, we are prepared to consider additional political, economic and security options as Iraq starts to build a new government,” Kerry said.

Kerry would not outline the potential new US assistance to Iraq, but he ruled out the return of American combat troops to the country.

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon was considering additional aid to the Iraqi security forces, including the Kurdish army, which is now involved in heavy fighting against the armed rebels.

The Obama administration has begun directly providing weapons to Kurdish forces who have started to make gains against the Islamic State, senior US officials said, but the aid has so far been limited to automatic rifles and
ammunition.

On Tuesday, at least 12 people were killed in two bomb blasts in the Baghdad, raising fears of further political violence in the capital.

544

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Iraq’s highest court paves way for Maliki to serve third term

Iraq’s highest court ruled on Monday that Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s bloc is the biggest in parliament, meaning he could retain his position, state television reported.

The president, according to the constitution, must now ask Maliki to form a new government in Iraq, which is facing a major challenge from Islamic State Sunni insurgents and widepread sectarian bloodshed.

Maliki, serving in a caretaker capacity since an inconclusive election in April, has defied calls from Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shi’ites and regional power broker Iran to step aside to make room for a less polarizing figure.

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Troops Loyal To Maliki Deploy In Baghdad

Reports from Iraq say troops loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki have been deployed to strategic locations in Baghdad.

Unidentified officials said the security forces took up positions at key entrances to the capital late on August 10.

Several streets were reportedly closed, as well as some key bridges.

Earlier, Maliki appeared on television saying he intended to file a complaint against President Fuad Masum for committing “a clear constitutional violation.”

Maliki, whose coalition won the most seats in April elections, accuses Masum of neglecting to name a prime minister from the country’s largest parliamentary bloc by the August 10 deadline.

The United States threw its weight behind Masum, with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Brett McGurk saying on Twitter that he was “guarantor of the Constitution and a (prime minister) nominee who can build a national consensus.”

Maliki is seeking a third term as prime minister, but the rapid advance of Islamist militants in western and northern Iraq during the summer has prompted calls for him to step aside.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Mnt goat discusses delays and Maliki.

Mnt Goat there was a delay in announcing the candidate until Thursday which was yesterday. This delay was to allow time to go back to the supreme court for a hearing on the topic of who is the majority bloc. The courts referred back to the 2010 decision once again and said their decision back then is final and it will not waive. By applying the decision the National Alliance is the overwhelming majority boc and so has the power to form the new government and thus sub the candidate to the president to forward to the name parliament. This was a very positive sign for us yesterday. This is what we all was wanted. So it now does not matter what Maliki demands or wants. His own party now no longer supports him.

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MALIKI HAS OFFICIALLY RECEIVED HIS WALKING PAPERS AND IS NOW PAYING DEMONSTRATORS TO PROTEST

Reliable sources said that the demonstrators out of the elements loyal to Prime Minister outgoing Nuri al-Maliki, demanding the latter to grant a third term.

A source familiar with the close of the organizers of these demonstrations that “dozens of people loyal to the owners came out a demonstration demanding the granting Maliki third term.”

He explained that “demonstrations came after the meeting of the coalition of state law and the resolution is non-Maliki’s nomination by the blocks that fall in the coalition they (Badr and Mstcoln and some episodes of the Dawa Party)”

He said they were “after he saw the organizers of the demonstration that the number of inadequate they commissioned to collect certain groups of people that give a financial amount (50 000 dinars) for one head.”

This suggests a lot of news about the removal of al-Maliki for his candidacy for the post of prime minister for the third time, which raised the ire of some politicians, where they see that “al-Maliki in his weekly day on Wednesday had threatened to Iraqis in the case disqualified, they will open it up the gates of hell on Iraq.”

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Maliki instructs Air Force to support Kurdish Peshmerga forces

Baghdad (AIN) –The Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, instructed the Air Force to support the Peshmerga forces fighting the ISIL terrorists.

The spokesperson of the General Commander of the Armed Force, Qasim Atta, stated in a press statement “Maliki instructed the Air Force to support the Peshmerga forces while fighting the ISIL terrorists.” /End/

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Iraqi Foreign Minister Blames Maliki for Islamist Insurgency

(Reuters) — Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his security officials are to blame for the rise of Sunni Muslim insurgents who have seized parts of Iraq, the country’s foreign minister said.

The comments by Hoshiyar Zebari, a Kurd, are likely to worsen relations between Maliki’s Shi’ite Muslim-led government and the Kurds, complicating efforts to form a power-sharing government capable of countering Islamic State militants.

At the stake is the survival of Iraq as a unified country. Islamic State have declared a medieval-style caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria they control, alarming other Arab states who fear their campaign will embolden militants on their patch.

“Surely the man who is responsible for the general policies bears the responsibility and the general commander of the armed force, the ministers of defense and interior also bear these responsibilities,” Zebari told al-Arabiya television. “There are other sides who bear responsibility, maybe political partners, but the biggest and greatest responsibility is on the person in charge of public policies.”

On Friday, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah called on regional leaders and religious scholars to prevent Islam from being hijacked by militants. He named no groups but was alluding to violence in neighboring countries, including Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State has executed scores of people and imposed their radical views in areas they captured.

In July, the Kurdish political bloc ended all participation in Iraq’s national government in protest over Maliki’s accusation that Kurds were allowing terrorists to stay in Arbil, the capital of their semi-autonomous region known as Kurdistan.

Maliki is currently ruling in a caretaker capacity, having won a parliamentary election in April but failing to win enough support from the Kurdish and Arab Sunni minorities as well as fellow Shi’ites to form a new government. The United States, the United Nations and Iraq’s own Shi’ite clerics have urged lawmakers to form a new government swiftly to deal with the Sunni insurgency.

BIGGEST THREAT SINCE SADDAM’S FALL

Islamic State’s offensive has whipped up sectarian tensions and threatened to dismember Iraq. The sectarian conflict poses the biggest danger to the OPEC member’s stability since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein after a U.S.-led invasion.

Maliki has appointed Hussain al-Shahristani, the Shi’ite deputy prime minister, as acting foreign minister.

The Kurds have long dreamed of their own independent state, an aspiration that anger Maliki, who has frequently clashed with the non-Arabs over budgets, land and oil.

After the Sunni militants arrived almost unopposed by the army, Kurdish forces seized two oilfields in northern Iraq and took over operations from a state-run oil company.

In another move certain to infuriate the government, the Kurdish region is pressing Washington for sophisticated weapons it says Kurdish fighters need to push back Islamist militants, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias now rival the Iraqi army in its ability to confront the Islamic State, whose fighters had taken control of parts of western Iraq before their advance through the north.

The Sunni insurgents have paused their campaign in towns just north of Baghdad, which could partly explain why U.N. figures show the number of Iraqi deaths dropped to 1,737 people, mostly civilians, in July compared to 2,400 in June.

Still, violence is part of everyday life.

Roadside bombs killed four people near a square in central Baghdad on Friday, medical and security sources said.

There are signs of a backlash among Iraqis against the Islamic State, which has blown up mosques and shrines and imposed its ultra hardline vision of Islam in Mosul and other cities in controls in the north.

One of the Islamic State’s propaganda centers in Mosul, which contains a big screen where the group showcases its operations, was set ablaze on Friday night, a witness said.

Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Mark Heinrich.

Assyrian International News Agency

Prime Minister Maliki withdraws from 3rd term candidacy

On Wednesday, the MP for the Liberal bloc, Riad al-Saadi indicated that the National Alliance has five candidates for the post of prime minister, including al-Jaafari and al-Shahristani while noting that the outgoing Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, withdrew his candidacy for the post because of political pressure.

Saadi said, in an interview for IraqiNews.com, that “the National Alliance has five candidates for the post of prime minister,” noting that “three of these candidates of the National Coalition: Ahmed Chalabi, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Aadi Abdul-Mahdi and the other two from the state of law; they are Khodair al Khozai and Hussain al-Shahristani.”

al-Saadi noted that “the outgoing Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, withdrew his candidacy for the post,” attributing the reason that “there was pressure from other political blocs.”

al-Saadi added “Shahristani has a lot of policies and relations, but Maliki nominated Alkhozai because he is from his party.”

The religious authority Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi considered, on July 29, 2014, that the nomination of a president of the new government in Iraq must be determined as a set apart by the polls, stressing the adherence to the constitutional entitlement of the new government.

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Prime Minister Maliki withdraws from 3rd term candidacy

On Wednesday, the MP for the Liberal bloc, Riad al-Saadi indicated that the National Alliance has five candidates for the post of prime minister, including al-Jaafari and al-Shahristani while noting that the outgoing Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, withdrew his candidacy for the post because of political pressure.

Saadi said, in an interview for IraqiNews.com, that “the National Alliance has five candidates for the post of prime minister,” noting that “three of these candidates of the National Coalition: Ahmed Chalabi, Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Aadi Abdul-Mahdi and the other two from the state of law; they are Khodair al Khozai and Hussain al-Shahristani.”

al-Saadi noted that “the outgoing Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, withdrew his candidacy for the post,” attributing the reason that “there was pressure from other political blocs.”

al-Saadi added “Shahristani has a lot of policies and relations, but Maliki nominated Alkhozai because he is from his party.”

The religious authority Mr. Mahmoud Hashemi considered, on July 29, 2014, that the nomination of a president of the new government in Iraq must be determined as a set apart by the polls, stressing the adherence to the constitutional entitlement of the new government.

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Iraq’s top cleric sends subtle message to Maliki – step aside

Iraq’s senior cleric on Friday urged political leaders to refrain from clinging to their posts – an apparent reference to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has defied demands that he step aside. Speaking through an aide who delivered a sermon after Friday prayers in the holy city of Kerbala, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said leaders should show flexibility so that political deadlocks could be broken and Iraq could confront militants.

Last month, Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant swept through northern and western Iraq, posing the biggest challenge to Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government since the departure of U.S. forces in 2011.

Critics say Maliki is a divisive figure whose alienation of Sunnis has fueled sectarian hatred and played into the hands of the insurgents, who have threatened to march on Baghdad.

Sistani said it is time for politicians to think of Iraq’s interests, not their own.

“The sensitivity of this phase necessitates that all the parties concerned should have a spirit of national responsibility that requires the practice of the principle of sacrifice and self denial and not to cling to positions and posts.”

Maliki, a Shi’ite, has ruled since an election in April in a caretaker capacity, dismissing demands from the Sunnis and Kurds that he step aside for a less polarizing figure. Even some Shi’ites oppose his bid for a third term.

Iraq’s parliament elected senior Kurdish lawmaker Fouad Masoum as president on Thursday, a long-awaited step in creating a new government capable of countering the insurgency. Politicians have been in deadlock over forming a new government since the election. The next step, choosing a prime minister, may prove far more difficult as Maliki digs in.

Sistani’s call for flexibility could hasten his departure As he is seen as a voice of reason in the deeply divided country.

A recluse who favors a behind-the-scenes role, he has called for Iraqis to take up arms against the Sunni insurgency.

The insurgents, who changed their name to the Islamic State and declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria, have put Iraq’s survival as a unified state in jeopardy. The army virtually collapsed in the face of their lightning advance.

Sectarian militias and Kurdish peshmerga fighters have become a critical line of defense against the Islamic State as the militants set their sights on the capital.

U.S. military and Iraqi security officials estimate the Islamic State has at least 3,000 fighters in Iraq, rising towards 20,000 when new recruits since last month’s advance are included.

Aside from military campaigns, insurgents have been stamping out any religious or cultural influences they deem non-Islamic.

On Friday, the group warned women in the city of Mosul to wear full-face veils or risk severe punishment.

“The conditions imposed on her clothes and grooming was only to end the pretext of debauchery resulting from grooming and overdressing,” said the Islamic State in a statement.

“This is not a restriction on her freedom but to prevent her from falling into humiliation and vulgarity or to be a theater for the eyes of those who are looking.”

A cleric in Mosul told Reuters that Islamic State gunmen had shown up at his mosque and ordered him to read their warning on loudspeakers when worshipers gather.

“Anyone who is not committed to this duty and is motivated by glamour will be subject to accountability and severe punishment to protect society from harm and to maintain the necessities of religion and protect it from debauchery,” said the Islamic State.

LINK

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Kaperoni talks about Maliki being at his best.

Kaperoni Article: “Parliament will vote on the four candidates for prime minister” This is the time when Maliki is at his best. Some of these new MPs will get a cash gift tonight. Or, some of the MPs will be told their wifes and children could be missing tomorrow. Having a vote in parliament that includes Maliki’s name is not a good thing. Where something can go wrong it usually does.

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Tlar talks about Maliki.

Tlar Maliki just won’t go away. He now is trying to obstruct the voting for president by nominating a bunch of guys from the SOL which he intends to run one after another in an attempt to stall the process. We have already seen an article where the SOL is stating Wednesday they should just introduce the nominees not vote on them. I’m sure they would love to postpone another week the actual vote. He claims is trying to punish the Kurds for their “polices” but the truth is different. He is just trying to stall the process of building the government.

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Tlar say Maliki has been dumped.

Tlar The SOL has all but dumped Maliki as their nominee. Maliki said he will resign in exchange for two things….Immunity of all charges even murder and if he gets to pick the next PM are what he wants in exchange for his resignation…The SOL’s power base has also been eroding as many of their members (about half or more) have come out against Maliki. The SOL has said they will offer three nominees…. The coalition has also offered up three nominees. Either Chalabi or Mahdi will ultimately be the prime minister….The PM position may take a few days past Wednesday…

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State of Law: Maliki only has the right to choose his replacement as prime minister

Baghdad / Iraq News Network:   confirmed a coalition of state law, Wednesday, that the president of a coalition of state law, Nuri al-Maliki only has the right to choose his replacement as prime minister, and on his shoulder the responsibility for the nomination of the most efficient of the cluster for this position. Said Coalition MP Samira al-Moussawi said in a statement today “The task of choosing the alternative of state law for submission to the National Alliance to form a government rests with the head of a coalition of state law, Nuri al-Maliki, the outgoing.” and added, “The issue of alternative Maliki discussed by the leaders of the National Alliance did not tell us one name alternative until now,” indicating that “the person who will agree it should be regaining national consensus as called for by reference.” She continued, al-Moussawi said the “National Alliance asked us to provide a candidate non-Maliki to form a government as our coalition won the highest percentage of the vote,” asserting that “it is the responsibility of al-Maliki only choose candidate designee nor the validity of the members of the state of law in that. “It is said that the Iraqi parliament has chosen on Tuesday, Salim al-President of the Parliament, and chose Haider Abadi, deputy First, Aram Sheikh Mohammed as second deputy, all of whom spare no absolute majority (half +1) of the House of Representatives.

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Maliki to Arab Nations: ‘Do Not Allow Iraq’s Division’

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting to stay in power against overwhelming Sunni and Kurdish opposition, warned Arab countries that Iraq’s division would rumble across the region.

“The idea of dividing Iraq will not work out by any means,” he said in his televised weekly speech on Wednesday, as Iraq appeared to be sliding toward splintering into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish portions.

“The division will not be geographical only, but the people and resources will also divide, he warned. S

Addressing member nations of the Arab League, the Shiite prime minister said: “Do not allow Iraq’s division to take place. The fire of division will spread to other countries.”

Maliki’s comments came a day after Iraqi politicians named a Sunni moderate, Salim al-Jabouri, as the speaker of parliament. But the political bickering over forming a new government has gone nowhere, as Maliki refuses to refrain from a third term in office, despite the turmoil that has shaken the region.

Iraq’s Kurds have announced plans for an independence referendum, and the Sunnis are in a massive rebellion against the Shiite-government in Baghdad, hand-in-hand with jihadi-led rebels who have captured a third of the country.

Maliki confirmed that the presidency of Iraq would still go to a Kurd.

“The Iraqi president should be appointed as soon as possible, and only 15 days are left, I think,” he said.

“The appointed should be a suitable person, and should respect the constitution, the unity of Iraq and be against the division of Iraq. Otherwise we will face problems,” Maliki warned.

The incumbent president, Jalal Talabani, is a Kurd who has been absent and in Germany since a stroke in December 2012.

Meanwhile, the Kurds – including ministers in the Iraqi cabinet – have disengaged from Baghdad completely, following accusations by Maliki that Erbil was harboring Islamic extremists.

So far the candidate for Iraq’s presidency has not been confirmed by the Kurds, but many have hinted that Barham Salih, the former Kurdish prime minister, will most likely be named.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has backed Maliki’s efforts to keep Iraq united, has also warned that Iraq’s division would lead to “catastrophic consequences.”

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Maliki to Arab Nations: ‘Do Not Allow Iraq’s Division’

Nouri al-Maliki.Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting to stay in power against overwhelming Sunni and Kurdish opposition, warned Arab countries that Iraq’s division would rumble across the region.

“The idea of dividing Iraq will not work out by any means,” he said in his televised weekly speech on Wednesday, as Iraq appeared to be sliding toward splintering into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish portions.

“The division will not be geographical only, but the people and resources will also divide, he warned. S

Addressing member nations of the Arab League, the Shiite prime minister said: “Do not allow Iraq’s division to take place. The fire of division will spread to other countries.”

Maliki’s comments came a day after Iraqi politicians named a Sunni moderate, Salim al-Jabouri, as the speaker of parliament. But the political bickering over forming a new government has gone nowhere, as Maliki refuses to refrain from a third term in office, despite the turmoil that has shaken the region.

Iraq’s Kurds have announced plans for an independence referendum, and the Sunnis are in a massive rebellion against the Shiite-government in Baghdad, hand-in-hand with jihadi-led rebels who have captured a third of the country.

Maliki confirmed that the presidency of Iraq would still go to a Kurd.

“The Iraqi president should be appointed as soon as possible, and only 15 days are left, I think,” he said.

“The appointed should be a suitable person, and should respect the constitution, the unity of Iraq and be against the division of Iraq. Otherwise we will face problems,” Maliki warned.

The incumbent president, Jalal Talabani, is a Kurd who has been absent and in Germany since a stroke in December 2012.

Meanwhile, the Kurds — including ministers in the Iraqi cabinet — have disengaged from Baghdad completely, following accusations by Maliki that Erbil was harboring Islamic extremists.

So far the candidate for Iraq’s presidency has not been confirmed by the Kurds, but many have hinted that Barham Salih, the former Kurdish prime minister, will most likely be named.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has backed Maliki’s efforts to keep Iraq united, has also warned that Iraq’s division would lead to “catastrophic consequences.”

Assyrian International News Agency

Washington Post: Maliki will announce his resignation

According to the Washington Post, quoting media sources, especially by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will announce his resignation within days, indicating he would support an independent candidate to succeed him,
the newspaper said in a news Mguetillt published on Wednesday that al-Maliki agreed to step down from running for a third term, provided that the method appropriate to his person and reservation prestige, according to sources,
revealed the desire of al-Maliki headed by the National Alliance, the successor to the Jafari greedy state office,
and was Nahar newspaper had revealed earlier in the day about the “abandonment of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced his candidacy for the presidency of the new government for a third term, after a request from the reference Najaf and Iran. ”
The newspaper said the request came “to end the conflict inside and outside of the National Alliance about the prime minister.”
According to the Lebanese newspaper that according to the leaks, “the negotiations within the National Alliance conducted in connection with the nomination of a replacement for the succession of al-Maliki., but the discussions revolve around the timing of the announcement abandoning stand, where some parties prefer to announce his move after the achievement of results in the field of security. ”

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Maliki to Arab Nations: ‘Do Not Allow Iraq’s Division’

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting to stay in power against overwhelming Sunni and Kurdish opposition, warned Arab countries that Iraq’s division would rumble across the region.

“The idea of dividing Iraq will not work out by any means,” he said in his televised weekly speech on Wednesday, as Iraq appeared to be sliding toward splintering into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish portions.

“The division will not be geographical only, but the people and resources will also divide, he warned. S

Addressing member nations of the Arab League, the Shiite prime minister said: “Do not allow Iraq’s division to take place. The fire of division will spread to other countries.”

Maliki’s comments came a day after Iraqi politicians named a Sunni moderate, Salim al-Jabouri, as the speaker of parliament. But the political bickering over forming a new government has gone nowhere, as Maliki refuses to refrain from a third term in office, despite the turmoil that has shaken the region.

Iraq’s Kurds have announced plans for an independence referendum, and the Sunnis are in a massive rebellion against the Shiite-government in Baghdad, hand-in-hand with jihadi-led rebels who have captured a third of the country.

Maliki confirmed that the presidency of Iraq would still go to a Kurd.

“The Iraqi president should be appointed as soon as possible, and only 15 days are left, I think,” he said.

“The appointed should be a suitable person, and should respect the constitution, the unity of Iraq and be against the division of Iraq. Otherwise we will face problems,” Maliki warned.

The incumbent president, Jalal Talabani, is a Kurd who has been absent and in Germany since a stroke in December 2012.

Meanwhile, the Kurds – including ministers in the Iraqi cabinet – have disengaged from Baghdad completely, following accusations by Maliki that Erbil was harboring Islamic extremists.

So far the candidate for Iraq’s presidency has not been confirmed by the Kurds, but many have hinted that Barham Salih, the former Kurdish prime minister, will most likely be named.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has backed Maliki’s efforts to keep Iraq united, has also warned that Iraq’s division would lead to “catastrophic consequences.”

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Kurds ‘quit Iraq government’ in Maliki snub

The Kurdish political bloc has stopped all participation in Iraq’s national government over prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s comments that Kurds were hosting Sunni rebels in Erbil.

Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said on Friday that Kurdish politicians would stop running their ministries, a day after they had announced a boycott of cabinet meetings.

The ministries affected include Zebari’s foreign ministry, the trade ministry, the ministry of migration, the health ministry and the deputy premiership, the Reuters news agency reported.

Kurdish MPs would continue to attend the parliament, elected on April 30, Zebari said, adding the country risked falling apart if an inclusive government was not formed.

“The country is now divided literally into three states; Kurdish; a black state [the area controlled by the Islamic State group] and Baghdad.”

Despite the foreign minister’s comments, the Iraqi state television said reports that the Kurdish bloc had suspended participation in the government were not “fully accurate”.

It quoted Kifa Mahmoud Karim, an adviser to the Kurdish regional government’s president, as saying the ministers consider themselves to be “on leave”.

Karim said the politicians would go back to Baghdad once the parliament agreed on nominations for the presidency and speaker of the house.

Also on Friday, Kurdish peshmerga soldiers took control of two oilfields near Kirkuk on Friday, expelling Arab workers and replacing them with Kurdish personnel, the oil ministry said.

The Kurdish forces had moved in to Kirkuk in June shortly after Iraqi government forces fled in face of an offensive by Islamic State group fighters.

Sistani condemnation

In a separate development, Iraq’s most revered Shia religious leader, Ali al-Sistani, called on politicians to “close ranks” and to stop what he called their “radical discourse”.

The Iraqi prime minister’s accusation that the Kurdish regional government was harbouring fighters from the Islamic State group sparked a war of words between him and the Kurdish regional president, Massoud Barzani.

Iraq’s political fractures were exposed after a rebellion led by Islamic State group fighters seized large parts of the country.

Maliki has accused the Kurds of exploiting the crisis to push for statehood.

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AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Has Maliki retired?

DC:   [via Adept1] In Iraq…we have had phone calls confirming that Maliki has retired… We are quite ready for the new PM, Speaker and President. They have been selected although not formally voted on. Everyone is in gear and ready to go, in terms of the ministers who have been selected. The customs, border agents, and CBI are all ready for this to get done. Everyone has calmed down and the security situation in Iraq is better due to actions against ISIS and others. Iraq is absolutely ready to go.The agencies are all green: UST, Fed, banks, UN, IMF, administration is absolutely ready to go and get things done. Everyone…is in the right seat for this to be executed. We don’t have the exact time…Now that everything has settled down, it’s ready to go!

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Motahidoin assures boycotting next government if Maliki nominated as PM

Baghdad   –MP, Ahmed al-Massari, of Motahidoin Alliance threatened to boycott the next government if the Premier, Nouri al-Maliki, heads the next government as its Prime Minister.

Massari stated to AIN “We have no idea about postponing holding the next parliament session and we do not know about the reasons behind postponing it,” noting that “Nominating the next parliament Speaker is not settled yet.”

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Maliki: We will not allow Nujaifi to take any position in the three presidencies

Shafaq News / State of Law coalition led by outgoing Prime Minister ,Nuri al-Maliki confirmed on Thursday, “absolute” rejection for the former parliament speaker, Osama al-Nujaifi to take any of the positions of the three presidencies.

“Whether the presidency of the parliament or the presidency would be to the Sunni Arabs, we in the State of law coalition will not allow and will not accept Osama al-Nujaifi to assume any of the positions for our belief that Nujaifi has failed in the political process in Iraq through delaying the previous Parliament ,”The leader of the coalition, Mohammed al-Sayhood told “Shafaq News”.

He added that “if Nujaifi assumed the presidency of the Republic or the presidency of the parliament , he will end what has remained, we believe that they are maneuvering the candidate names for office to submit Nujaifi as a candidate finally.”

Motahedoun coalition led by Nujaifi has refused to nominate Maliki as prime minister and called the National Alliance to provide candidates for the position with the exception of al-Maliki.

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Maliki Big Loser in the Blame Game

There’s plenty of blame to go around for ISIS’s progress in Iraq. (Photo: State Department / Flickr)

There’s plenty of blame to go around for ISIS’s progress in Iraq. (Photo: State Department / Flickr)

Everyone wants to blame Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the military success of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) in Iraq. For instance, appearing on Fox News,

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized the U.S. for arming “Islamic rebels who kill Christians” in Syria and who are now militant in Iraq and said “the person most culpable” for the crisis in Iraq is President Maliki. Paul hit back at Sean Hannity’s oversimplification of the Iraq crisis and attempts to blame President Obama and Democrats on Hannity’s radio show this week.

In April, Dexter Filkins reported for the New Yorker:

The capture of Iraqi territory by Islamic extremists, barely two years since the last American soldiers left, prompted an extraordinary wave of soul-searching in Iraq and the United States, which lost more than thirteen hundred men and women in Anbar Province. Much of that reflection, in both countries, centered on Maliki, the man in whom the United States invested so much of its hopes and resources.

… From the beginning, Maliki was fixated on conspiracies being hatched against him—by his Iraqi rivals, by the Baathists he imagined were still in the Iraqi Army, even by the Americans. A former American diplomat described it as “Nixonian paranoia,” adding, “We had a hundred and fifty thousand troops in the country, and he was obsessed that a few dozen former Baathists were going to try to overthrow him.”

Equally as destructive, a longtime associate told Filkins that, to Maliki, “all politics is short term. He doesn’t have any vision for the state.”

More recently, at Al Arabiya, Abdulrahman al-Rashed wrote:

There is no doubt that Maliki is fully responsible for this crisis. … Maliki has taken over power, taking advantage of this American protection. He has expelled his Shiite allies and took all the decisions by himself. He excluded and offended about one-third of the Iraqi population, Arab Sunnis, and therefore this situation can only generate a continued disobedience, which threatens the stability of Iraq and the state’s structure.

“Of course,” wrote the author of a report with no byline at Conflict Forum, “it is easy for external observers to blame PM Maliki for all Iraqi ills.”

But it was not Maliki that set up the Kurdish autonomous region, or who armed the Peshmerga; nor was it Maliki who disbanded Sadam Hussein’s army or initiated de-Ba’athification or who purged the Sunnis from power. It is true that the Prime Minister is neurotically suspicious of conspiracies mounted against him — a pathology which has deadened and ossified Iraqi politics. But his caution and suspicions, albeit exaggerated and damaging politically, can hardly [be] said to have been entirely without basis.

Foreign Policy In Focus

Maliki: Syria carried out air strikes against ISIL near Al Anbar

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) On Thursday Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed that Syria carried out air strikes against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, near the Iraqi border on Tuesday.

Maliki said in a statement for BBC, “The Syrian fighter jets bombed insurgent positions near the border of Qaim on Tuesday,” adding that “the strike was directed to a point on the Syrian side of the border.”

Maliki indicated that “Iraq did not ask for these raids,” asserting that “Baghdad welcomed such attacks against the elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

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Maliki: Syria carried out air strikes against ISIL near Al Anbar

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) On Thursday Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki confirmed that Syria carried out air strikes against militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, near the Iraqi border on Tuesday.

Maliki said in a statement for BBC, “The Syrian fighter jets bombed insurgent positions near the border of Qaim on Tuesday,” adding that “the strike was directed to a point on the Syrian side of the border.”

Maliki indicated that “Iraq did not ask for these raids,” asserting that “Baghdad welcomed such attacks against the elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

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Hague Appeals for Unity in Baghdad, as Maliki Turns to Syria and Iran

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – UK Foreign Secretary William Hague made an urgent appeal for political unity in Baghdad against a jihadi blitz, but amid indications Iraq’s Shiite prime minister was turning to Iran and Syria in face of a Western reluctance for military involvement.

Hague’s unannounced visit came just as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confirmed that Syrian warplanes had carried out border raids against the militants, who include the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Sunni jihadis have captured cities and key installations, such as two border posts with Syria, since beginning their rampage about a fortnight ago. They vow to march on Baghdad to oust the Shiite government.

The Iraqi military has largely collapsed since the rebel advance began with the capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. But as Hague prepared to go into talks in Baghdad, state television showed army troops in control of the Baiji refinery, the country’s largest, which reportedly had fallen.

“The immediate priority, and the focus of my discussions today, is to help and encourage Iraqi leaders to put sectarian conflicts behind them and unite across all political parties,” Hague said in Baghdad, adding he would also be meeting with Massoud Barzani, president of the autonomous northern Kurdistan Region.

“The Iraqi state is facing an existential threat, with huge ramifications for the future stability and freedom of this country. The single most important factor that will determine whether or not Iraq overcomes this challenge is political unity,” Hague said.

He expressed the same view as US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Baghdad Monday before traveling to the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

But in the time that Kerry left Baghdad and Hague arrived, Maliki reneged on a pledge to the US secretary that he would quickly form a salvation government to stop Iraq from splintering into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish portions.

“The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process,” he said on state television Wednesday.

Hague, however, came with an urgent appeal for unity.

“As a friend of Iraq, the UK believes the urgent priority must be to form an inclusive government that can command the support of all Iraqi people and work to stop ISIS in its tracks,” he said.

The British minister said the UK can provide diplomatic, counter-terrorism and humanitarian support to Iraq. He said his government has already provided five million pounds in emergency relief to Iraq and “there is more that we will be able to do in support of a unified Iraqi government.”

But Maliki, who has pleaded for US air strikes against the militants, has only received 300 advisors from Washington, which has been his main Western backer up to now.

Maliki confirmed that warplanes in Syria — where ISIS is also fighting and where he has helped the regime receive weapons from Iran by opening Iraqi territory — had carried out raids against the militants on the border with Iraq.

“There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action,” he told the BBC. “We welcome any Syrian strike against ISIS, because this group targets both Iraq and Syria,” he said. “The final winners are our two countries.”

The avowed goal of ISIS is to create an Islamic state on territory straddling both Iraq and Syria.

Following the Syrian air raids earlier this week, reportedly inside Iraq, the White House warned Damascus to stay out of the war next door.

As Maliki refused to budge, ISIS militants were reported to be fighting only an hour away from Baghdad.

Maliki’s rejection of Western appeals for a unified government was seen as an indication he is counting on support from elsewhere, namely Shiite Iran.

The New York Times reported that Tehran is supplying Maliki with tons of military equipment every day. It said that the very powerful commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, has been in Iraq to coordinate the fight against insurgents.

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Maliki ‘welcomes Syrian strikes’ on rebels

The Syrian air force has carried out air raids against Sunni rebels on the Syrian side of the Iraq-Syria border this week, the Iraqi prime minister has told the BBC.

Nouri al-Maliki on Thursday told the British broadcaster he “welcomed” any such strike against the rebels, led by the formerly al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), adding that his government did not request Tuesday’s aerial raids.

On Wednesday al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, al-Nusra Front, also made a local pledge of allegiance to ISIL, further bolstering the group’s control of the border area.

The purported raids by Syria came after ISIL-led fighters took control of the border town of al-Qaim on the Iraqi side of the frontier, providing them a strategic route into Syria, where the group is also active.

Overnight ISIL seized a town near Baghdad, Mansouriyat al-Jabal, that is home to four natural gas fields where foreign companies operate, security forces said.

ISIL fighters have overrun large parts of five provinces north and west of Baghdad, leaving more than 1,000 people dead and displacing hundreds of thousands.

On the diplomatic front, William Hague, the British foreign secretary, arrived in Baghdad on Thursday for talks with Maliki centred on the crisis gripping the country.

Hague was also scheduled to meet Osama al-Nujaifi, Iraqi parliament speaker, and other political leaders.

Britain has recently ruled out any military involvement in Iraq, but Hague said a British “operational liaison and reconnaissance team” arrived in Baghdad over the weekend and that Britain would provide humanitarian assistance as needed.

He has also said that as many as 400 British citizens may be fighting in Syria and that some may also be fighting in Iraq with ISIL.

Iraq’s presidency said a session of parliament would be held on July 1, the first step to forming a new government that many hope will be inclusive enough to undermine the ISIL campaign.

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AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Maliki: The national salvation government is a coup against constitution

BAGHDAD / NINA / Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki described the government of national salvation, which is demanded by some, as a coup against the constitution.

He said in his weekly speech today that “the armed forces are able to open the roads linking the provinces and liberate cities, which came with the support of Religious Authority and people.”

Maliki said: “We will attend the first session of the House of Representatives and we will commit by the Constitution and in response to the call of religious authority and people who participated in the elections.” / End

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Maliki rejects pressure for unity government

The Iraqi prime minister has said he will not bow to international pressure on forming a national unity government to tackle the Sunni rebellion in the north, calling the idea a “coup” against the constitution.

Nouri al-Maliki’s statement on Wednesday came a day after the US secretary of state, John Kerry, left Iraq after pushing for an agreement between Kurdish, Sunni and Shia leaders.

In his weekly televised address, Maliki said: “The call to form a national emergency government is a coup against the constitution and the political process.

“It is an attempt by those who are against the constitution to eliminate the young democratic process and steal the votes of the voters.”

The speech came a day after US military advisers arrived in Baghdad. The US says Iraqi politicians must create a unity government before it sends futher help.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said the prime minister’s comments would be seen as direct rebuttal to the US insistence of a unity deal before more help is sent.

Maliki’s electoral bloc won by far the most seats in April 30 parliamentary elections with 92, nearly three times as many as the next biggest party, and the incumbent himself tallied 720,000 personal votes, also far and away the most.

Refinery takeover

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi State TV broadcasted video claiming to show Iraqi troops in control of the oil refinery at Baiji, amid contesting claims as to who was in control there.

The footage, shot by a journalist sympathetic to the government, shows an army helicoper briefly landing at the site before leaving.

Khan said that the video, which the government said was shot on Tuesday, seemed to suggest Iraqi troops were in control of at least part of the refinery.

The Iraqi government would have been hesitant to send a journalist to the area if it wasn’t confident it was clear of rebels, Khan said.

339

AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

Kurds Signal Loyalty to Iraq, But Not to Maliki

ERBIL, Iraq — The U.S. urged the semiautonomous Iraqi region of Kurdistan to stand with the country’s central government, amid speculation the Kurds would push for independence as the country plunged into sectarian violence.

Concerns in Baghdad, Washington and elsewhere that the Kurds were moving toward seceding from Iraq rose in recent months as they began unilaterally exporting oil in defiance of the central government’s warnings not to do so.

Their worries deepened this month when the Kurds responded to rapidly advancing Sunni insurgents by sending in their forces to replace the fleeing Iraqi military, expanding the territory they control by more than a third, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

Fear over Iraq’s disintegration led Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday to urge the Kurdistan Regional Government’s leaders to cooperate with Baghdad, despite their long-standing antipathy for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as the Shiite leader seeks to start forming a new government by July 1.

Mr. Kerry stressed in his meeting with Kurdish President Massoud Barzani that the U.S. believed Kurdistan would be stronger if it remained part of a unified Iraq, even if it operated with significantly more autonomy. Mr. Barzani, in turn, told Mr. Kerry that the Kurds wouldn’t take part in a government that Mr. Maliki led. But his government has signaled it won’t make any sudden moves towards independence.

The Obama administration sees the Kurds as a vital part of its hopes for a new government in Baghdad that would also be inclusive of Sunni Arabs and Kurds, stemming support for the insurgency.

Mr. Kerry’s plea came hours after Mr. Barzani told CNN that Iraq is “falling apart” and Kurdish people should “now determine their future,” although he stopped short of calling for an independent state. Kurdish officials are indicating that they won’t seek outright independence for now, but rather greater autonomy.

“We want to have control of our economic destiny, we don’t want to be under Baghdad’s control again,” Ashti Hawrami, Kurdistan’s minister of natural resources and an architect of the push for more autonomy by exporting oil, said in an interview. “If [the U.S.] want to be helpful to Iraq, they need to help establish a federal system.”

Kurds have coveted independence since Western colonial powers divvied up the Middle East after World War I. Their strategy to pursue greater autonomy but remain within the Iraqi state is a bid to preserve the stability that has reigned in Kurdistan since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that ousted Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, said local officials, diplomats and international businessmen.

Erbil’s stance seeks to avoid antagonizing not only Baghdad, but also Washington, which has long opposed a Kurdish independence bid for fear it could Balkanize Iraq.

“KRG officials are very careful not to be seen taking advantage of the situation to push a goal that would be destabilizing,” said Crispin Hawes, managing director at Teneo Intelligence, a New York-based political risk advisory. “Their current level of authority does lead them toward de facto independence, but they’re very careful not to use that word outside the region.”

Rather, Kurdish leaders have focused on building self-governing institutions and attracting energy giants including Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp. that helped kick-start a resources-driven economic boom.

Assyrian International News Agency

Aggiedad talks about Kerry meeting with Maliki

Aggiedad77 Article: “U.S. official: Kerry will discuss the potential for tripping over Iraq’s oil supplies” Oh this should give everyone in Iraq a warm fuzzy feeling…Sec of State Kerry is allegedly going to show up in Iraq…now of all times…now after so much damage has been done…let’s pay a little attention to a country we once tried to save from the very menace they face today…a menace that someone uttered “were on the run” not so long ago…I’m sure that there will be a warm welcome for him…it is kind of funny…this talk of oil disruption is not even remotely close to being a reality…nothing in the way of exports to the north or the south have been threatened.

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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

BGG discusses Maliki fighting.

BGG [with the seating of parliament on Tuesday does that look like a good day for maliki to leave one way or the other?] Maliki is fought the seating of Parliament tooth and nail…once they are seated – it is a very short walk to the end for him. Once Maliki is gone – things will get much easier. [With the conflict on going and M being "forced" out is ISX, July 1 upgrade on track? And if so, Do you think it forces CBI to RV prior to July 1?] My comment will be – the financial side of things sure feels like it is on it’s own timeline entirely… particularly in light of Turki’s recent comments about the potential value of the Dinar. [Can our liquidity event happen with M in place?] not impossible – however, at this point – I would at least think the IMF/WB would want to be certain he is a non-factor.

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Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits

Gulf Leaders Blame Iraq’s Maliki for ISIL Crisis

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah (L) attends Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh June 2, 2014.WASHINGTON (VOA) — As the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continued along a bloody path toward Baghdad, President Barack Obama announced Thursday that the U.S. has stepped up “intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets” in Iraq to get a clearer picture of what’s going on there.

With better information about what ISIL is doing and where, the U.S. can better support the Iraqi military in countering the threat of Sunni Islamist forces. That may be good news for the Iranian-backed Maliki government in Iraq, but is not expected to sit well with Sunnis outside of Iraq — in particular, Sunni monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries.

“This is very much a situation of competing narratives,” said Salman Sheikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center and fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

“The Maliki government, the Assad government, as well as Iran, are seeing this very much as a fight between elected governments and Sunni extremists, al-Qaida extremists,” he said.

“On the other side, you’ve got a narrative which is very much about the grievances that are being done to the Sunnis’ heartland, particularly in Iraq by Maliki, and of course by a minority in Syria to the majority Sunni population,” Sheikh said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has blamed Saudi Arabia for supporting the Sunni extremists with weapons and cash. But Saudi and the other Gulf countries throw the blame right back at the Iraqi leader, a Shi’ite, saying his own “sectarian and exclusionary policies” led to the current crisis.

They also criticize the United States for its ongoing support of Maliki, warning that if the U.S. continues to back him, it could ignite a regional sectarian war.

The situation is therefore enormously complex, Sheikh said, and one that places the United States in a political quandary.

Crisis was predictable

“Iraq is a mosaic of cultures, histories, ethnicities, religions and sects,” said Sheikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, former Qatari Ambassador to the U.N. and to the U.S.

“And it used to be very inclusive, very open, respectful of all its political elements — Kurdish, Arab Sunni, Arab Shia, Arab Christian and others.”

But not anymore, he told VOA, stressing that his remarks are his own and not representative of any government.

“Everybody was expecting something big to happen in Iraq when Maliki came back as Iraqi prime minister four years ago,” Al-Khalifa said. “Instead of really opening up Iraq and making it a model for the religions, Maliki became beholden to the Iranians’ strategic goals in the region, i.e., to dominate the whole Middle East and the Gulf, and he created a sectarian state — as a matter of fact, an Iranian state within Iraq — because even Shi’ite Arabs suffered under him a lot.” Al-Khalifa also said Maliki squandered hundreds of billions of dollars that should have been spent on improving Iraq’s faulty infrastructure. Meanwhile, sectarian violence was building, especially in the northeast tribal areas of the country. When Iraqi security forces cracked down on Sunni protesters in Anbar province in April, tensions spiraled out of control.

While it may have seemed as if ISIL came out of nowhere, observers in the region saw it coming months ago, Al-Khalifa said.

The Qatari diplomat also warned that U.S. intervention in Iraq on behalf of Maliki’s government could be seen by those tired of Western intervention as “a new crusade” aimed at destroying Arabs and Islam. And Maliki, with help from Iran, could read it as green light to stay put and continue his sectarian politics.

Sectarian Showdown?

President Obama also said Thursday the U.S. will head up a diplomatic effort with Iraqi and regional leaders to support stability in Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East and Europe this weekend for consultations with U.S. allies.

David Ottaway, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and a former Washington Post Middle East correspondent said he is doubtful that Maliki himself can achieve political unity. Tensions between the Iran-backed government and Iraq’s Sunnis have been simmering for far too long.

“The Sunnis have smarted ever since they lost power in Baghdad in 2003, and over time it’s just gotten worse and worse,” Ottaway said. “I don’t see how Maliki will get any Kurds or Sunnis at this point to join in a coalition government.

“I think it’s rather headed in the opposite direction — towards a Sunni-Shia shootout.”

Assyrian International News Agency