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Monday, 11 August 2014

Confusion over Iraqi court ruling

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A Iraqi court has denied TV reports that it has named PM Nouri Maliki’s bloc as the largest in parliament.
Such a decision would serve as a boost to Mr Maliki’s bid to stay on for a third term, forcing the president to ask him to remain in his post.
Pro-Maliki security forces took to the streets of Baghdad on Sunday night after the PM made a speech criticising the president.

Mr Maliki faces calls to step down amid a jihadist insurgency in the north.
Critics say Mr Maliki, a Shia, has precipitated the current crisis through sectarian policies. Sunnis, Kurds and even fellow Shia have urged him to go.
Pro-Maliki forces were in evidence in key areas of BaghdadUS Secretary of State John Kerry called on the Iraqi PM not to increase tensions, and warned against use of force by political factions.
“The government formation process is critical in terms of sustaining stability and calm in Iraq, and our hope is that Mr Maliki will not stir those waters,” he said during a visit to Australia.
Earlier the US, which has urged Iraq to form an inclusive government, issued a statement backing President Fuad Masum.
Official complaint“The federal court announces its decision confirming that State of Law is the largest bloc in parliament,” state TV reported.
But shortly afterwards court spokesman Abdelsattar Bereqdar told BBC Arabic that it had asked Mr Masum to choose the bloc with the largest number of MPs without naming any bloc.
Correspondents say the question of how to define the largest bloc had been a major impediment to Mr Maliki’s ambitions since his election victory in May.
Mr Maliki had announced in a TV address on Sunday night that he was making an official complaint against President Masum in court.
Nouri Maliki said Iraq’s new president had violated the constitution
US Secretary of State John Kerry: “We need to… give a new government the opportunity to be voted on and move forward”
He accused him of “committing a clear constitutional violation for the sake of political calculations and… giving priority to the interests of some groups at the expense of the higher interests of the Iraqi people”.
Mr Maliki’s coalition won the most seats in April’s elections but parliament has not agreed to give him a third term.
Mr Masum had violated the constitution twice, by extending a 7 August deadline for asking the biggest political bloc to nominate a prime minister and then by failing to ask the head of that bloc to form a government, Mr Maliki said.
Shia militiamen and security forces loyal to Mr Maliki reportedly appeared at key centres in Baghdad. There were no reports of violence.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters above Makhmur, which they say they have now retakenThousands of people have been displaced by the Sunni militants’ advance in northern IraqBut reports emerged in northern Iraq that Islamic State (IS) militants had captured the town of Jalawla, north-east of Baghdad after weeks of clashes with Kurdish fighters.
On Sunday, Kurdish forces said they had regained the towns of Gwer and Makhmur from the militants, helped by recent US air strikes in Nineveh province.
The US has already launched four rounds of air strikes targeting the militants near Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Kurds have appealed for international military aid to help defeat IS.
In western Iraq, minority religious groups, such as the Yazidis, have been forced from their homes, prompting international aid drops.
Witnesses told the BBC that thousands of refugees near Sinjar had escaped to safer areas.
The US air strikes have been the first direct American involvement in a military operation in Iraq since the US withdrawal from the country in late 2011.
US President Barack Obama authorised the strikes last week after members of the Yazidi sect were forced to flee Sinjar into the surrounding mountains.
Iraq’s minorities
  • The majority are Chaldeans, part of the Catholic Church
  • Numbers have fallen from around 1.5 million since the US-led invasion in 2003 to 350,000-450,000
  • In Nineveh province, they live mainly in towns such as Qaraqosh (also known as Baghdida), Bartella, al-Hamdaniya and Tel Kef
Yazidis
  • Secretive group whose origins and ethnicity are subject to continuing debate
  • Religion incorporates elements of many faiths
  • Belief that God’s will is carried out by seven angels
  • Most important among them is the Peacock Angel, considered by some Muslims and Christians to be the devil but who Yazidis say was redeemed
  • Because of this, Yazidis are viewed by some as devil worshippers
  • There are estimated to be around 500,000 Yazidis worldwide, most living in Iraq’s Nineveh plains
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