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Aug 12, 2014

U.S. ready to help new Iraq leader, Iran welcomes choice

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s new prime minister-designate won swift endorsements from both the United States and Iran on Tuesday as he called on political leaders to end crippling feuds that have let jihadists seize a third of the country.

Haider al-Abadi still faces a threat closer to home, where his Shi’ite party colleague Nuri al-Maliki has refused to step aside after eight years as premier that have alienated Iraq’s once dominant Sunni minority and irked Washington and Tehran.

Aug 12, 2014

Power struggle on Baghdad streets as Maliki replaced but refuses to go

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s president named a new prime minister to end Nuri al-Maliki’s eight-year rule on Monday, but the veteran leader refused to go after deploying militias and special forces on the streets, creating a dangerous political showdown in Baghdad.

Washington, which helped install Maliki following its 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, congratulated Haidar al-Abadi, a former Maliki lieutenant who was named by President Fouad Masoum to replace him.

Aug 11, 2014

Iraqi Shi’ite coalition close to nominating prime minister

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A bloc comprising Iraq’s biggest Shi’ite parties is close to nominating a prime minister, the deputy speaker of parliament said on Monday, directly challenging Nuri al-Maliki who has refused to give up his bid for a third term.

Haider al-Abadi’s comments in a tweet came after police sources said special forces and Shi’ite militias loyal to Maliki had been deployed in strategic areas of Baghdad after he made a defiant speech on television suggesting he would not cave in to pressure to drop his bid for another term.

Aug 11, 2014

Iraqi Shi’ite coalition close to nominating prime minister

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A bloc comprising Iraq’s biggest Shi’ite parties is close to nominating a prime minister, the deputy speaker of parliament said on Monday, directly challenging Nuri al-Maliki who has refused to give up his bid for a third term.

Haider al-Abadi’s comments in a tweet came after police sources said special forces and Shi’ite militias loyal to Maliki had been deployed in strategic areas of Baghdad after he made a defiant speech on television suggesting he would not cave in to pressure to drop his bid for another term.

Aug 9, 2014

Obama says tackling Iraq’s insurgency will take time

BAGHDAD, Aug 9 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on
Saturday U.S. airstrikes had destroyed arms that Islamic State
militants could have used against Iraqi Kurds, but warned there
was no quick fix to a crisis that threatens to tear Iraq apart.

Speaking the day after U.S. warplanes hit militants in Iraq,
Obama said it would take more than bombs to restore stability,
and criticised Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led
government for failing to empower Sunnis.

Aug 9, 2014

Islamist rebels repairing Mosul dam, Kurds in rush to arms

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Islamic State insurgents who seized Iraq’s biggest dam in a offensive that has caused international consternation have brought in engineers for repairs, witnesses said on Saturday, as nervous Kurds stocked up on arms to defend their enclave nearby.

The jihadi Islamists have captured wide swathes of northern Iraq since June, executing non-Sunni Muslim captives, displacing tens of thousands of people and drawing the first U.S. air strikes in the region since Washington withdrew troops in 2011.

Aug 7, 2014

Iraq’s Yazidis cling to a mountaintop as Islamic State advances

BAGHDAD, Aug 7 (Reuters) – After fleeing from Islamic State
militants, thousands of ethnic Yazidis stranded on a mountain
were clinging to rumours that Iraqi government planes would drop
food to save them.

The supplies never came. All they could do was pray for
help.

Just a week ago, Yazidis living in their ancient homeland of
Sinjar in northern Iraq felt protected by Kurdish peshmerga
forces. Followers of an ancient religion derived from
Zoroastrianism, the Yazidis are themselves Kurds.

Aug 5, 2014

Iraq’s Yazidis face Islamic State or perilous mountains

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – When the Islamic State made another dramatic push through northern Iraq, many Iraqis fled their towns and villages before the Sunni militants notorious for beheadings arrived.

But the Yazidis of the town of Sinjar were especially terrified. The Islamic State, whose methods seem excessive even to al Qaeda, regards the minority ethnic group as “devil worshippers”, making them prime candidates for the sword.

Aug 5, 2014

Maliki fights for political life as Sunni insurgency rages

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has no intention of stepping aside despite mounting pressure from Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shi’ites and power broker Iran, aides said on Tuesday, although political deadlock is undermining efforts to counter insurgents.

Maliki, seen as an authoritarian figure with a sectarian agenda that has destabilised Iraq, has ruled in a caretaker capacity since an incomplete election in April.

Aug 4, 2014

Tunneling through triangle of death, Islamic State aims at Baghdad from south

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Using secret tunnels built by Saddam Hussein and rough terrain to outfox Iraqi troops, Islamic State insurgents are getting dangerously close to Baghdad with the support of heavily-armed Sunni tribesmen, Iraqi security and intelligence officials said.

The al Qaeda offshoot, which poses the biggest security threat to Iraq since the fall of Saddam in 2003, has made new bold advances in the north, reaching a major dam and seizing a fifth oilfield and three more towns after routing security forces from the Kurdish autonomous region.