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Aug 15, 2014

Top Iraqi cleric backs new premier, calls for unity

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s most influential cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, threw his weight on Friday behind the new prime minister, calling for national unity to contain sectarian bloodshed and an offensive by Islamic State militants that threatens Baghdad.

Speaking after Nuri al-Maliki finally stepped down as prime minister under heavy pressure from allies at home and abroad, the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shi’ite majority said the handover to Maliki’s party colleague Haider al-Abadi offered a rare opportunity to resolve political and security crises.

Aug 15, 2014

Iraq’s Maliki finally steps aside, paving way for new gov’t

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Nuri al-Maliki finally bowed to pressure within Iraq and beyond on Thursday and stepped down as prime minister, paving the way for a new coalition that world and regional powers hope can quash a Sunni Islamist insurgency that threatens Baghdad.

Maliki ended eight years of often divisive, sectarian rule and endorsed fellow Shi’ite Haider al-Abadi in a televised speech during which he stood next to his successor and spoke of the grave threat from Sunni Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas of northern Iraq.

Aug 15, 2014

Iraq’s Maliki finally steps aside, paving way for new government

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Nuri al-Maliki finally bowed to pressure within Iraq and beyond on Thursday and stepped down as prime minister, paving the way for a new coalition that world and regional powers hope can quash a Sunni Islamist insurgency that threatens Baghdad.

Maliki ended eight years of often divisive, sectarian rule and endorsed fellow Shi’ite Haider al-Abadi in a televised speech during which he stood next to his successor and spoke of the grave threat from Sunni Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas of northern Iraq.

Aug 14, 2014

Maliki finally steps aside as Iraq Sunni leader sees U.S. help

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Nuri al-Maliki finally bowed to pressure with Iraq and beyond on Thursday and stepped down as prime minister, paving the way for a new coalition that world and regional powers hope can quash a Sunni Islamist insurgency that threatens Baghdad.

Maliki ended eight years of often divisive, sectarian rule and endorsed fellow Shi’ite Haider al-Abadi in a televised speech during which he stood next to his successor. Earlier, a leading figure in the Sunni minority told Reuters he had been promised U.S. help to fight the Islamic State militants.

Aug 12, 2014

Fearing Iraq’s downfall, power brokers chose safe bet Abadi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to step aside had become unbearable. Sunnis, Kurds, fellow Shi’ites, regional power broker Iran and the United States all wanted him out.

Maliki calculated he may have one more chance to hold onto power after eight years in office, even though alarmed allies had run out of patience as Islamic State jihadis swept government forces aside in much of western and northern Iraq.

Aug 12, 2014

Insight – Fearing Iraq’s downfall, power brokers chose safe bet Abadi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to step aside had become unbearable. Sunnis, Kurds, fellow Shi’ites, regional power broker Iran and the United States all wanted him out.

Maliki calculated he may have one more chance to hold onto power after eight years in office, even though alarmed allies had run out of patience as Islamic State jihadis swept government forces aside in much of western and northern Iraq.

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.