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Nuri al-Maliki

Maliki of Iraq steps down

BAGHDAD: 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.

Sunnis, Kurds abandon Iraq parliament after no replacement for Maliki named

BAGHDAD: Sunnis and Kurds abandoned the first meeting of Iraq's new parliament on Tuesday after Shi'ites failed to name a prime minister to replace Nuri al-Maliki, wrecking hopes that a unity government would be swiftly built to save Iraq from collapse. The United States, United Nations, Iran and Iraq's own Shi'ite clergy have pushed hard for politicians to come up with an inclusive government to save the country as Sunni insurgents bear down on Baghdad. But with Shi'ites failing to name a prime minister, Sunnis and Kurds…

Armed U.S. aircrafts now flying over Iraq – defense officials

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is flying armed aircrafts over Iraq, defense officials said on Friday, adding that the flights were aimed at gathering intelligence and ensuring the safety of U.S. personnel on the ground rather than conducting strikes. "What I would tell you is that we continue to fly both manned and unmanned aircraft over Iraq at the ... Iraqi government's request, predominantly for reconnaissance purposes. Some of those aircraft are armed," Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told…

Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric calls for prime minister to be chosen by Tuesday

BAGHDAD: The most influential Shi'ite cleric in Iraq called on the country's leaders on Friday to choose a prime minister within the next four days, a dramatic political intervention that could hasten the end of Nuri al-Maliki's eight year rule. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who commands unswerving loyalty from many Shi'ites in Iraq and beyond, said political blocs should agree on the next premier, parliament speaker and president before a newly elected legislature meets on Tuesday. Sistani's intervention makes it difficult…

Iraq militants take border post with Syria

ANBAR, IRAQ: Sunni fighters seized a border post on the Iraq-Syria frontier on Saturday, smashing a line drawn in 1932 by colonial powers and linking hundreds of miles of land they control to create an Islamic Caliphate from the Mediterranean Sea to Iran. The militants, led by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), first moved into the nearby town of al-Qaim on Friday, pushing out security forces, the sources said. Once border guards heard that al-Qaim had fallen, they left their posts and militants moved in, the…

U.S. considers airstrikes on Iraq, holds talks with Iran

MOSUL/WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama considered options for military action to support Iraq's besieged government on Monday, and U.S. and Iranian officials held talks to stabilize the region, which has been roiled by the advance of Sunni rebels toward Baghdad. Obama, who discussed the crisis with his top national security advisers on Monday evening, has made U.S. action contingent on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's taking steps to broaden his Shi'ite-dominated government. "The President will continue to consult…

Insurgents take two more Iraqi towns, Obama threatens air strikes

BAGHDAD: Sunni Islamist militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala, while U.S. President Barack Obama considered military strikes to halt their advance towards the capital Baghdad. After security forces abandoned their posts, security sources said the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla had fallen to the insurgents, along with several villages around the Himreen mountains, which have long been a hideout for militants. Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the…