News / Middle East

    Iraqi PM Rejects Forming 'Salvation' Government

    Militants Gain in Iraq, US Military Advisors Arrivei
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    June 26, 2014 10:27 AM
    Sunni extremists continue to make gains on the battlefield in Iraq and analysts say parts of the country appear to be collapsing. The first U.S. military advisors have arrived in Iraq to help the government counter the militants. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
    Related video: Militants Gain in Iraq, US Military Advisors Arrive
    VOA News

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has rejected forming an emergency government to help the country counter a surge by Sunni Islamist militants.

    In a televised address, Maliki said he considered a "national salvation government," intended to present a unified front among Iraq's three main groups, a "coup against the constitution" and going against Iraq's April 30 parliament election results.

    Iraqi leaders said they will meet a July 1 deadline for beginning to form the post-election government.

    U.S. officials believe the leadership in Baghdad should seek to draw Sunni support away from the militants from the al-Qaida breakaway group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

    ISIL militants have seized areas across northern and western Iraq.

    NATO meeting

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been on a week-long tour of the Middle East and Europe to discuss the crisis in Iraq, spoke to reporters at a NATO meeting in Brussels.

    Kerry said, "We’ve made it clear to everyone in region that we don't need anything to take place that might exacerbate the sectarian divisions" already occurring in Iraq.

    He also said the U.S. is interested in who leads Iraq but is not going to interfere as Baghdad forms a new government.

    "It's up to Iraqis to make those decisions. We have stated clearly that we have an interest in a government that can unite Iraqis," Kerry said.

    U.S. Support for Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Interests

    • 30-35 daily surveillance flights over Iraq
    • Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, guided-missile cruiser and guided-missile destroyer deployed to Arabian Gulf
    • 300 military personnel to deploy to advise Iraqi security forces
    • Amphibious transport dock ship moves to Arabian Gulf with aircraft and Marines

    Source: U.S. Department of Defense

    Both Kerry and U.S. President Barack Obama have been urging Iraq to install a government that is inclusive of Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

    On Friday, Kerry will visit Saudi Arabia on Friday to meet King Abdullah and discuss the crises  in Iraq and Syria, he said at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday.

    Kerry last visited the world's top oil exporter in late March alongside U.S. President Barack Obama. He will most likely meet the Saudi monarch in Jeddah, where the kingdom's government is based during summer months.

    The United States and Saudi Arabia have both been alarmed by the success of ISIL.

    However, officials from Saudi Arabia, which has long complained that Iraq's Sunnis are marginalized by Maliki, said they oppose foreign intervention in Iraq after Baghdad requested U.S. air strikes on ISIL.

    Call to unite

    Maliki's Shi'ite-led government has faced criticism of sidelining the minorities and breeding sectarian tensions. He called for unity in his address Wednesday.

    "We desperately need to take a comprehensive national stand to defeat terrorism, which is seeking to destroy our gains of democracy and freedom, set our differences aside and join efforts," Maliki said. "The danger facing Iraq requires all political groups to reconcile on the basis and principles of our constitutional democracy."

    Middle East analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London argued many in the West are making too much of the role of ISIL militants in the battle against the Maliki government.

    "There is too much concentration on ISIL and the militants. There is a lot more to that than ISIL and the militants," Shehadi said. "Underneath that is a genuine discontent and marginalization on the part of mainly Sunni constituency and one should not address ISIL as being the main protagonist. It affects the solution. It affects the way you seek a solution."

    Shehadi went on to stress that “underlying discontent” among Sunni tribes is what sparked the revolt against the Maliki government.

    “ISIL,” he insisted, “jumped in to take advantage of the rift or discontent.” The “solution” to the conflict, he claimed, “is to address the discontent, not to address ISIL.”

    Oil refinery, air base attacked

    On Wednesday, militants overran the Ajeel oil site, 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Tikrit, which contains at least three small oil fields that produce 28,000 barrels per day, an engineer working at the field said.

    The engineer said local tribes had taken responsibility for protecting the fields after police withdrew but that they also left after the nearby town of al-Alam was seized by militants.

    Ajeel is connected to two pipelines, one running to Turkey's Ceyhan port and the other to the Beiji oil refinery, which remained a frontline early on Wednesday.

    State TV showed troop reinforcements flying into the compound by helicopter to fend off the assault on Beiji, a strategic industrial complex 200 kilometers north of Baghdad.

    Local tribal leaders said they were negotiating with both the Shi'ite-led government and Sunni fighters to allow the tribes to run the plant if Iraqi forces withdraw.

    One government official said Baghdad wanted the tribes to break with ISIL and other Sunni armed factions, and help defend the compound.

    The plant has been fought over since last Wednesday, with sudden reversals for both sides and no clear winner so far.

    Militants including ISIL and allied Sunni tribes battled Iraqi forces in the town of Yathrib, 90 km north of Baghdad, into the early hours of Wednesday, witnesses and the deputy head of the municipality said. Four militants were killed, they said.

    Insurgents have partially surrounded a massive air base nearby Balad, which was known as "Camp Anaconda" under U.S. occupation, and struck it with mortars.

    The loss of Balad would be a powerful blow to the Shi'ite-led government of Maliki and could threaten the capital from the air. It could also pave the way for a Sunni insurgent assault on a second major air base at Taji.

    Images from Iraq

    • A Shi'ite volunteer who joined the Iraqi army to fight against predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant looks on during a parade in Kanaan, Iraq, June 26, 2014.
    • Shi'ite volunteers who joined the Iraqi army to fight against predominantly Sunni militants from the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant take part in a parade in Kanaan, Iraq, June 26, 2014.
    • Fleeing Iraqi citizens from Mosul and other northern towns sit in a pick up truck between Mosul and Irbil, northern Iraq, June 25, 2014.
    • An Iraqi woman who fled her village holds her daughter near a Kurdish checkpoint, in the Khazer area between Mosul and Irbil, northern Iraq, June 26, 2014.
    • Members of the Iraqi security forces take their positions during an intensive security deployment west of Baghdad, June 24, 2014.
    • Members of Iraqi security forces take their positions along a road during an intensive security deployment west of Baghdad, June 24, 2014.
    • A military convoy drives towards Kirkuk, to reinforce Kurdish Peshmerga troops, Iraq, June 24, 2014.
    • Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani listens to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during a meeting at the presidential palace in Irbil, Iraq, June 24, 2014.
    • Kurdish security forces take their positions at a checkpoint on a highway between the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Kurdish city of Irbil, in Khazer, northern Iraq, June 24, 2014.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, June 23, 2014.
    • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Sayyed Amar Al-Hakim, head of Supreme Islamic Council, during a meeting in Baghdad, June 23, 2014.
    • A fighter with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant distributes a copy of the Quran, Islam's holy book, to a driver in central northern city of Mosul, Iraq, June 22, 2014.


    US forces arrive

    The attack came as the first of up to 300 U.S. military adviser, meant to help Iraq counter the militants, arrived in Baghdad to assess the government's military position.

    More than 100 security personnel arrived earlier this week and more are scheduled to arrive in the next few days.

    The United States also is conducting air surveillance over Iraq, with 30 to 35 flights a day to help gain better insight about the security situation on the ground as Iraqi troops battle the fast-moving insurgency.

    The United Nations said Tuesday that more than 1,000 people have been killed in Iraq in June, most of them civilians.  Iraq is seeing its worst violence since 2008, with U.N. figures showing 4,500 deaths through the end of May.

    Edward Yeranian contributed to this report from Cairo. Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.

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    by: Matio from: K1T1J4
    June 28, 2014 6:29 AM
    Maliki is not, can't be Prime Minister,
    He cheat on election,
    he is criminal, Terrorist, Khamenehi's chain dog... and he can't be prime minister, and the last Iraqi's election in is not valid.

    by: tiktin from: Boise, Idaho
    June 26, 2014 11:35 AM
    "We made it clear", "We want". Nobody in Iraq cares what Kerry wants. He needs to shut up and go home.

    by: Ali baba from: new york
    June 26, 2014 3:35 AM
    IT will be the bloodiest and nastiest war ever. It is a failure to CIA and failure to Obama administration to evaluate the danger of barbaric enemy . We have to look about the Arab and Islamic communities who live in US and Europe . they are not good citizen. they are a traitor for our country. if the jihadist recruited and get money from Muslim .who live among us and celebrate the killing of Christian in middle east .it is disgrace
    In Response

    by: ali baba from: new york
    June 26, 2014 1:26 PM
    to Ali baba 2
    if you hear the news that American from Florida blow himself. Somali are recruited to fight in Syria. a lot of jihadist at SISI are from Europe, US and Canada. the prime minster of England open an inquiry about Muslim brotherhood activities. Where the leader of Muslim communities when jihadist recruited in US. It is double standard of Muslim communities .second .non of these countries mention has an American citizen blow himself .the fact speak to itself
    In Response

    by: AliBaba 2 from: Chicago
    June 26, 2014 12:12 PM
    Grow up man. Why will muslims living in USA/West support those terrorists in Middle east? The info you get here is what muslims get here too. If war or fighting occurs in Vietnam, Mynmar, Phillipines, Korea, Ireland, SriLanka, etc, then should all people from those countries living here should also be considered supporters and traitors?

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 25, 2014 11:04 PM
    I like the statement in this report that "The United States and Saudi Arabia have both been alarmed by the success of ISIL." Wow, alarmed. Hmmmmmm, Saudi Arabia, hmmmmmmmmmm, Sunni Muslims (ISIL,ISIS), hmmmmm, alarmed. I guess "alarmed" and "ecstatically and hysterically joyous" mean the same? What is the US 'alarmed' about? We armed and supported this group! We completely left the Iraqis 'hanging' knowing they were vulnerable. Hmmmmmm, how do we blame Bush for Obama's failure here? Somebody help me please, we can still blame Bush for this, can't we? After all, Obama did end this war. Obama did say that Bush was a loser and he didn't know how to do anything right, or something like that. 95% of the media agreed. Obama didn't make any agreements to Iraq, other than to just pull out and "see ya later suckas!" Is it 'alarming' that the Sunni raised Obama isn't taking any action against the Sunni ISIL? Can somebody give me a 'duh!' or two?
    In Response

    by: Duh from: US
    June 26, 2014 9:56 AM
    Bush never should have attacked Iraq in the first place...Saadam looks like the far lesser of two evils but not starting wars does not appease republican corporate masters.

    by: Not Again from: Canada
    June 25, 2014 9:29 PM
    Once again Maliki has shown his alignment, and it is with himself rather than with all the Iraqi people, even many prominent Shia re no longer supporting his ways; and once again the West is trying to propup a gvmt that is directly causing and accelerating the centrifugal forces that will tear appart Iraq; a country that should not really exist, because the different ethnic groups have been killing each other for well over 60+ years.
    Only a very brutal dictatorship kept the country as a unitarian state; hundreths of thousands paid with their lives, over 60+yrs, to keep the country united; Maliki is just the Shia version of Saddam Hussein, so not much future can be predicted for Iraq.
    Without a gvmt of national unity, any Western effort to reduce the instability, will require a massive and unprecedented level of killings, and I do not think that is the way to go; and foreign forces will be required to sustain the slaughter; it will not be an easy solution.
    The last pacification/stabilization of Iraq, by Western forces, and all the adversaries/combatants, including terrorists, etc.. must have taken well over 300,000 lives, a large proportion civilians. Without a national unity gvmt, the same or greater levels of morbity will be required, and only additional continuous force will sustain a unitarian state, once it is stabilized. The way ahead will require a massive number of airstrikes (thousands) and a very long term sustained air campaign (4 to 8 months) around the clock, and well trained troops on the ground; it will involve very much the destruction of towns/vilages/all structures and infrastructure, because, the adversaries, as all terrorist do, will fight their campaigns hiding behind civilians, in civilian structures. It is not a good prospect.
    Trying to reconstitute and reform Iraq without a gvmt of national unity, that harvests the will of the majority of the Iraqi population to support a central gvmt, is a long term high loss proposition for everyone; essentially another Syrian civil war type of situation.With a gvmt of national unity, all costs/human loss/structure loss/aircampaign, etc can probably be cut by 50%, it will still be very bloody and very destructive conflict, and as for every conflict, innocent civilians will be the majority of the casualties.

    by: xthat from: U.S.
    June 25, 2014 8:11 PM
    Maliki is right about a conspiracy. Everybody looking ISIS, when they should be looking at the Baathist.

    by: John
    June 25, 2014 8:10 PM
    I cannot see how the intervention in Iraq will be of value to the US. No doubt the Sunnis, Shia, ISIS, and everyone concerned all want the money oil will bring, so they will be happy to sell it to whoever will pay. As for the question of terrorism, it remains to be seen just what ISIS intends to do, other than massacre people inside its new Caliphate. There will be plenty of time to bomb them if they decide to make a nuisance of themselves to anyone outside the area they occupy.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    June 25, 2014 1:16 PM
    MY OPINION -- The US government hasn't a clue and is totally ignorant on what is now happening in Iraq, and they call the (ISIL) extremists, terrorists and insurgents, not knowing what they really are, and what their real plans are... (Maliki is totally right in not listening to the US, who arm and train Sunni extremists/terrorists in Jordan and Turkey, to fight in Syria, and now in Iraq)...

    The "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi is the (Commander of the Muslim Believers), who is going to re-establish the (black flags and banners) of the Sunni Muslim Abbasid Caliphate in Bagdad, or die trying.. (al-Baghdadi and his ever growing army of Sunni Muslims, (including Sunnis in the Iraq army), who vowed an oath of loyalty/allegiance (to serve him, or fight for him, or not fight against him), will conquer Bagdad and kill all the Shia Muslims who he calls "the Dirty Ones" who should be wiped off the earth...

    The "Emir of the Believers" al-Baghdadi has appointed Sunni Muslim Judges (Qadi's), who's qualifications are, they are free, sane, adult, trustworthy, and a Muslim, to mete out instant Islamic justice to the infidels and the impure, and others... The decision of the Sunni Muslim Judge (Qadi), is final and irrevocable.. -- (non-Believers call it acts of terror, war crimes and crimes against humanity, don't they?) .. (and it will only end, with the defeat and death of al-Baghdadi).

    by: Patrick from: Ca
    June 25, 2014 12:58 PM
    I hope we learn from bush era mistakes. Our country feels ripped off by war profiteers Halliburton! Global security should be the issue, not corporate profits! Consult with university profs from Columbia, it's not all about military! We need to strengthen our home situation, and freedom! Too many die here at home, what are fighting for? Make friends not enemies with Russia!

    by: Derek from: Locating
    June 25, 2014 12:27 PM
    We, the CIA, now admit we arm, fund, run, train, Al Qaeda. The "war on terror" is a SHAM!!!!!!
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