News / Middle East

    Obama Praises Selection of Iraqi PM-designate

    • Iraqis chant pro-government slogans and display placards bearing a picture of embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during a demonstration in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • An Iraqi soldier stands guard amid tight security measures by Iraqi security forces during a pro-government demonstration to show support for embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Iraqi Christians, who fled violence brought by Islamic State militants in the village of Qaraqosh, seek refuge inside a church building in Irbil, north of Baghdad, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Iraqi Christian children, who fled the violence in the village of Qaraqosh, sit on a mattress at their makeshift shelter in an abandoned building in Irbil, north of Baghdad, Aug. 11, 2014.
    • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk towards the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, Aug. 10, 2014.
    • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect jump onto a truck as they make their way toward the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate, Aug. 10, 2014.
    • In this photo provided Aug. 11 by the French Army, airport employees unload humanitarian freight from a French Air Force plane at Irbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan, Aug. 10. 2014.
    • Tech. Sgt. Lynn Morelly, 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster, watches bundles of halal meals parachute to the ground during a humanitarian airdrop mission, over the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq, Aug. 9, 2014. (U.S. Air Force)
    • Staff Sgt. Daniel Leavindofske, 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron ramp team chief and Senior Airman David Babcock, air transportation journeyman, assist with loading bundles of halal meals on to a C-17 Globemaster III for a humanitarian airdrop mission in the vicinity of Sinjar, Iraq. (U.S. Air Force)
    Developments in Iraq - Monday, August 11
    VOA News

    President Barack Obama expressed support for the selection of a new candidate to replace Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki even as the longtime leader resisted efforts to unseat him, setting up a fierce power struggle as the government fights a rapidly advancing Sunni insurgency.

    Iraqi President Fouad Massoum picked Haider al-Abadi, the deputy speaker of parliament, to lead the Baghdad government as it faces the onslaught of Islamic State militants who have overrun much of the country's northern and western territory.

    Obama telephoned Abadi - a Shi'ite from Maliki's Dawa party - to offer congratulations, urging him to form an inclusive government that would secure representation for all of Iraq's major sects, including Sunnis and the Kurds.

    The U.S. president called Abadi's nomination a "promising step forward" in this effort and in battling Islamic State insurgents who threaten the country’s stability.

    President Barack Obama speaks about Iraq developments while vacationing in Chilmark, Massachusetts, Aug. 11, 2014.President Barack Obama speaks about Iraq developments while vacationing in Chilmark, Massachusetts, Aug. 11, 2014.
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    President Barack Obama speaks about Iraq developments while vacationing in Chilmark, Massachusetts, Aug. 11, 2014.
    President Barack Obama speaks about Iraq developments while vacationing in Chilmark, Massachusetts, Aug. 11, 2014.

    "This new Iraqi leadership has a difficult task," Obama said, citing the challenge of regaining the confidence of Iraqis and the international community.

    "We stand ready to partner with Iraq" and its new government, Obama said from Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, "and build on today's progress."

    He urged those working to form a new administration to come together peacefully with a goal of eliminating the threat of Sunni extremists.

    Incumbent Prime Minister Maliki is resisting an end to his eight-year rule. Seeking a third term, he has defied calls from Sunnis, Kurds and some fellow Shi'ites to step aside for a less polarizing figure.

    US Arms Kurdish Forces

    Meanwhile, American officials said the United States has begun directly arming Kurdish peshmerga fighters who are battling the militants in what would be a deepening of the U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

    The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the U.S. arms by name and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the weapons were supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency but that the Pentagon may soon begin arming the Kurdish fighters.

    A Kurdish goverment official said the U.S. lethal aid is still not enough to battle the militants, even though peshmerga and other Kurdish forces were recently supplemented with similar munitions from Baghdad.

    President Obama said Monday that U.S. aircraft remain in position to strike at extremists seeking to carve out a caliphate in the vast regions now under their control.

    Obama, who had authorized airstrikes on the Islamic militants last week, said the U.S. had "stepped up" military advice to Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

    The president noted the U.S. had continued airdrops of humanitarian supplies to the Iraqi religious minorities, especially Yazidis, trapped on Mount Sinjar. He also thanked the United Kingdom, France and other countries for providing aid.

    Maliki resists move to replace him

    Soon after Monday's nomination of Abadi, Maliki appeared on TV with members of his political bloc who insisted that they would not accept the nomination and that Maliki remained their choice for prime minister.

    The designated prime minnister, Abadi, has 30 days to form a government.

    He voiced optimism that the country eventually can defeat the Islamic State insurgents who are seeking to install an Islamic caliphate throughout the vast lands they have overtaken.

    "I have confidence that, with the people and political blocs, we would be able to overcome this barbaric and savage attack on the Iraqi people and provide a good environment for the Iraqi people to live in,'' Abadi said.

    Iraqis had been anticipating Abadi's nomination for weeks. The presence of key Shi'ite leaders at the ceremony inside Baghdad's Green Zone indicated strong support from other Shi'ites.

    Haider al-Abadi, left, has been nominated as Iraq’s prime minister. He’s shown with Salim al-Jabouri, speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad, on July 15, 2014.Haider al-Abadi, left, has been nominated as Iraq’s prime minister. He’s shown with Salim al-Jabouri, speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad, on July 15, 2014.
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    Haider al-Abadi, left, has been nominated as Iraq’s prime minister. He’s shown with Salim al-Jabouri, speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad, on July 15, 2014.
    Haider al-Abadi, left, has been nominated as Iraq’s prime minister. He’s shown with Salim al-Jabouri, speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad, on July 15, 2014.

    But high political drama preceded his appointment, as Iraqi media reported that security forces loyal to Maliki had deployed across Baghdad and surrounded the Green Zone.

    Asharqiya TV reported that the president's security guards were on high alert to protect his residence as he nominated Abadi. Some Iraqi journalists had speculated that Maliki would attempt to stop the nomination.

    In an address on Iraqi TV overnight, Maliki accused the Iraqi president of violating the constitution by delaying the nomination of a new prime minister. He appealed to Iraqi's Supreme Court to force Massoum to name his political bloc to form the new government because it had the most seats in parliament.

    Al Arabiya TV reported that three out of eight Supreme Court judges had ruled in Maliki's favor in rapid consultation by telephone. However, the ruling was moot because Abadi is in fact a member of Maliki's alliance.

    A parliamentary session to discuss a new Iraqi government has been postponed until August 19.

    Critics said Maliki alienated Sunnis, prompting them to support Islamic State militants who have seized a large chunk of northern Iraq and have threatened to march on Baghdad, posing the biggest threat to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

    US, UN support

    Abadi served as head of the Iraqi's finance committee, a political adviser to the prime minister and minister of communications. He was educated at the University of Manchester in England.

    Ahead of the court ruling, the United States and United Nations expressed support for Massoum and the selection of a prime minister who will lead an inclusive new Iraqi government.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking Monday from Australia, where he and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have arrived for a meeting in Sydney Tuesday, said Iraqis "need to know that there will be little international support of any kind whatsoever for anything that deviates from the legitimate constitutional process that is in place and being worked on now."

    U.S. and Kurdish forces are attempting to blunt an offensive by Islamic State fighers that threatens to overrun Irbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. 

    Hagel said three days of American airstrikes against Islamic State forces have been "very effective."

    However, Reuters reported Monday that the militants continued to make gains against the Kurds. The news agency also said Baghdad was bracing for potential conflict between supporters of Maliki and rvals within the Shi'ite majority.

    United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon also commended the Iraqi president for the movement toward forming a new government.

    Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. special representative for Iraq, said Monday the president is acting in line with the constitution and called on Iraqi security forces to refrain from actions that could be seen at interfering in the political process.

    The United States will "continue to support the Iraqi security forces in every way that we can as they request assistance there," Hagel said, "and we will again build partnerships as we are now, recognizing the threat not just to the United States but to the civilized world."

    The U.S. defense chief said Australia, Britain and France are working with the U.S. to supply humanitarian aid for the thousands of displaced Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities trapped in the area, many of them atop Mount Sinjar.

    US consulate staff temporarily withdrawn

    The U.S. Agency for International Development said Monday it is sending a disaster-assistance responsse team to Iraq to expedite life-saving assistance to those caught in the violence.

    The United States has started providing weapons directly to Kurdish forces in Iraq, who say they have been able to retake two towns from Islamic State militants.

    The International Organization for Migration says the number of internally displaced people in Iraq now totals more than 1 million.

    Analysts weigh in on Maliki

    U.S. officials and many Western analysts said Maliki, a Shi'ite, has failed to unify the divided country since taking office. They described him as increasingly unacceptable to Iraq's Sunni Muslims, to Kurds and to many of his fellow Shi'ites.

    RAND Corp. analyst Patrick Johnston said the court case is another sign that Maliki is more interested in maintaining his own position than confronting the challenges facing his country.

    "It’s just the most brash and brazen form of misbehavior and political conflict that we’ve seen from Prime Minister Maliki, the corruption, the negligence in terms of developing the security services, as we’ve seen the Islamic State [militants] go on the offensive and take over large chunks of the country," Johnston said.

    "Maliki has been primarily focused on keeping his own job and his grasp on power," Johnston added.

    Paul Sullivan, a Middle East expert at Georgetown University, told VOA he doubted Abadi would have accepted the nomination without “significant support from some of the powerful people in power centers of the Shia community.”

    He questioned whether Maliki would agree to go quietly "and reasonably move forward on other things or go to battle on this, either politically or physically," Sullivan said. "He doesn't seem to be willing to back down on this.”

    Sullivan said he thought many in Maliki's own party "have turned on him," but he worries that Abadi belongs to the conservative Shi'ite Da'awa Party, which many Sunnis don't look upon favorably.

    VOA's Edward Yeranian contributed to this report. Material also was provided by Reuters, AP and AFP

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    by: Dave from: Albuquerque
    August 11, 2014 8:15 PM
    Finally weapons to the Kurds, apparently blowing up two armored personal carriers seemed to stop the Insurgents from taking a city can you imagine what a bunch of rifles can do Lol JK and I hope the PM can do good I hope he isn't met with an untimely death due to the rivalry between the Shi ite and Abadi political and religious views. I'm not holding my breath anything is going to be accomplished anytime soon, more political crap while people die! We will never learn any of us!!

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 11, 2014 8:14 PM
    OBAMA OPINIONS, and (quotes), and who needs them?.... in 2011 Obama "quote" said; "We've protected thousands of people in Libya; we have not seen a single US casualty; There's no risk of additional escalation.. This operation is limited in time and scope."

    "Al-Qaeda is on the run, their leadership has been decimated.".. (and), "Bin Laden is dead, and the world is a safer place." .. (and), "Qaddafi is dead, and the world is a safer place.".... (now tell me), does Obama know what he's talking about, at any time?.... or put his opinions in the toilet?

    by: Baldur Dasche from: Botswana
    August 11, 2014 8:09 PM
    Praise their choice? That's about all Obama can do, but the decision of who's going to rule Iraq won't be made in Washington. If Obama's lucky it will be made in Teheran, or by the Shite militias in Iraq. a worst case scenario would see Iraq become the capital of a Muslim Emirate with more clout than Saddam ever dreamed about.

    America might envision invading Arabia to rescue the Sauds and having to face united Sunni and Shia sharing a jihad to rescue Mecca from the infidel.

    Something like that could go global and make Mr. Putin look like a pal and EUkraine the carbuncle it really is.

    by: Larry Poke
    August 11, 2014 8:04 PM
    If Obama is excited about this development, it must be completely WRONG!

    by: meanbill from: USA
    August 11, 2014 7:49 PM
    TRUTH BE TOLD.... Nuri al-Maliki "quote" said it, when he ordered all US troops out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.. "Keeping Americans in Iraq longer isn't the answer to the problems of Iraq.. It may be an answer to the problems of the US, but it's definitely not the solution to the problems of my country."

    PS;... That response was to the Obama request in 2011, to keep 3,000 to 5,000 US special forces in Iraq, to kill suspected enemies of America using US killer drones, and for the US to have immunity from prosecution in an Iraqi court of law, for killing innocent Iraq civilians by mistake.... Maliki refused, and the US hasn't supplied any of the US fighter planes or Apache helicopters Iraq bought in 2012, because they want that right to kill, American enemies, or innocent Iraqi's.....

    by: Diamond J from: Arizona
    August 11, 2014 7:28 PM
    Greg Childs is responsible for ISIS, and the NWO, as part of his Illuminati initiation ritual!

    by: Matthew
    August 11, 2014 7:19 PM
    Haider al-Abadi is the leader of the Dawa Party, a radical Isamist group determined to bring back traditional islam.

    Dawa supported the Islamic Revolution in Iran and in turn received support from the Iranian government. During the Iran–Iraq War, Iran backed a Dawa insurgency against Saddam Hussein's Baathist government in Iraq. In 1979, Dawa moved its headquarters to Tehran, the capital of Iran.[6] It bombed the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut in December 1981, the first of its international attacks.[7] Dawa party was thought to have been behind the bombing of the US embassy in Kuwait as well as other installations as punishment of Kuwait, America and France's military and financial assistance to Iraq in its war against Iran (see 1983 Kuwait bombings). One of those convicted for the bombing was Jamal Jafaar Mohammed, currently member of Iraq's parliament and member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ruling coalition.[8] - wiki

    by: Fenton Tinkleweewee from: USA
    August 11, 2014 6:23 PM
    Of course, the entire debate surrounding ISIS and its perceived threat to U.S. interests both abroad and at home has been largely absent the crucial fact that Washington itself, along with some of its closest allies in the region, was directly responsible for the training, arming and funding of ISIS militants in the first place.

    As the Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin documents, “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now threatening Baghdad, was funded for years by wealthy donors in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, three U.S. allies that have dual agendas in the war on terror.”

    The White House is also directly responsible for the spread of ISIS militants having backed other rebel groups in Syria which were once allied with and then taken over by ISIS.

    Indeed, some evidence suggests that the U.S. even trained some of the Islamists who went on to join ISIS at a secret base in Jordan in 2012.

    Aaron Klein was told by Jordanian officials that, “dozens of future ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”

    Yet another U.S. ally – Turkey – also trained ISIS fighters at a location in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana.

    While many would support the decision to launch air strikes against ISIS militants in Iraq, it would be naive to think that a group which was empowered as a direct consequence of the WHite House’s policy of supporting jihadists in Libya and Syria, will not be exploited by the administration to create a chilling effect domestically in order to vilify and silence its political opposition in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.

    by: Tom Tinkle from: USA
    August 11, 2014 5:49 PM
    With ISIS militants now threatening to attack the United States, the huge domestic anti-terror apparatus that has been built over the last decade will inevitably be used as a tool of homeland repression not to eliminate ISIS terrorists but to target politically active Americans who are adversarial to the Obama administration.

    As we have exhaustively documented, domestic law enforcement in the United States has become increasingly militarized in recent years, with police departments across the country purchasing MRAP armored vehicles that were first used to fight against insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    A recent major ACLU report warns that such vehicles are part of a transformation into militarized policing where Americans are treated “like wartime enemies.” Indiana Police Sergeant Dan Downing also recently admitted that the militarization of domestic law enforcement was to deal not with ISIS militants but with returning veterans who are now seen as a homegrown terror threat.




    Former Marine Corps Colonel Peter Martino, who was stationed in Fallujah and trained Iraqi soldiers, warned last year that the Department of Homeland Security is working with law enforcement to build a “domestic army,” because the federal government is afraid of its own citizens. Martino was speaking at a council meeting concerning a decision to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle. The purchase of the vehicle was mired in controversy after the city’s Police Chief wrote in an application filing to the DHS that the vehicle was needed to deal with the “threat” posed by libertarians, sovereign citizen adherents, and Occupy activists in the region.

    The emergence of ISIS as a genuine threat not just to minority groups in Iraq and Syria but to Americans and the homeland itself, characterized by a recent Twitter campaign under the ominous hashtag #AmessagefromISIStoUS, is a narrative that will be increasingly exploited by the Obama administration to justify further eviscerations of the Constitution as well as a tool to create jingoistic and simplistic appeals to patriotism which will in turn be deployed as a rhetorical weapon to demonize Obama’s most vocal political adversaries as radicals and extremists.

    Obama signaled his intent to take this course during an interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, in which the president charged that his critics were in the grip of an “extremist ideology.”

    The sheer horror of the atrocities committed by ISIS will make perfect fodder for the mainstream media and the federal government to cite in justifying a militarized crackdown domestically. As we reported back in June, a company that provides video training programs for law enforcement caused controversy by when it asserted in a Facebook post that nobody will complain about militarized police in America or examples of police brutality when the ISIS insurgent group “comes a calling.”

    by: Linda Belchwart from: USA
    August 11, 2014 5:26 PM
    More delusional WARMONGERS....Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the man who just two months ago warned that another 9/11 is now inevitable, said Sunday that An American city will be attacked by terrorists unless Obama launches a full scale war in Iraq.



    “I think of an American city in flames because of the terrorists’ ability to operate in Syria and Iraq,” Graham told Fox News host Chris Wallace.

    “Mr. President, you have never once spoke directly to the America people about the threat we face from being attacked from Syria, now Iraq. What is your strategy to stop these people from attacking the homeland?” Graham, a perpetual war hawk, added.

    The Senator advised that the Obama administration should begin a “sustained air campaign in Syria and Iraq” in order to spare Americans from terrorist attacks at home.

    “We need to go on offense. There is no force within the U.S. or the Middle East that can neutralize or destroy ISIS without at least American air power.” Graham said.

    When Wallace asked Graham “Are you saying we should go back to war in Iraq?”, the Senator replied “I’m saying that Iraq and Syria combined represent a direct threat to our homeland.”

    “His responsibility as president is to defend this nation. If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL — whatever you want to call these guys — they are coming here!”

    “It is about our homeland, and if we get attacked because he has no strategy to protect us then he will have committed a blunder for the ages.” Graham added, also saying that Obama has “no vision” in Iraq.

    “Do you really want to let America be attacked?” Graham asked. “What is going on in Washington when the FBI director, when the head of national intelligence, the CIA, the Homeland Security secretary, tells every member of Congress, including the president, we’re about to be attacked in a serious way because (of) the threat emanating from Syria and Iraq?”

    Of course, Graham’s claims are not true. While intelligence heads have expressed concern over the situations in Iraq and Syria, no one has said that a terrorist attack on America is imminent.

    An establishment neocon, Graham is one of the primary promoters of the contrived war on terror. It’s his job to push the idea that there is a never-ending terrorist threat to the US. He sides with the military-industrial complex and the political establishment on virtually every issue, from warmongering, to immigration, to eviscerating the bill of rights. He is accused by many of being a RINO, a Republican in name only, constantly siding with the Democratic Party on key issues despite being a Republican.

    Graham was joined Sunday in his campaign to start another US led war in Iraq by fellow neocons John McCain and Peter King.



    McCain warned on CNN that there are 100 Americans fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq and that they will attempt to attack America in the future.

    King took to NBC, saying that the U.S. should do “whatever we have to do” to stop the Islamic militant group, including arming Kurdish fighters in Northern Iraq. When asked if US ground troops should be deployed in Iraq, King replied “we should take nothing off the table.”
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