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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…

Iran vows to defend Iraq Shi’ite sites; insurgents battle for refinery

BAGHDAD: Iran's president vowed on Wednesday to defend Shi'ite holy sites in Iraq, where Sunni militants battled their way into the biggest oil refinery in what is rapidly turning into a sectarian war across the frontiers of the Middle East. Sunni fighters were in control of three quarters of the territory of the Baiji refinery north of Baghdad, an official said there, after a morning of heavy fighting at gates defended by elite troops under siege for a week. A lightning advance has seen Sunni fighters rout the Shi'ite-led…

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…