News / Middle East

Obama Welcomes Iraqi PM Nomination, Pledges Support

Obama Welcomes Iraqi PM Nomination, Pledges Supporti
August 12, 2014 3:03 AM
President Barack Obama is calling the nomination of a new Iraqi prime minister a promising step forward. Obama took time out of his vacation at Martha's Vineyard on Monday to express support for the prime minister-designate and urged him to quickly form an inclusive government to counter the threat posed by the Sunni militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIL. Aru Pande reports.
Aru Pande

President Barack Obama is calling the nomination of a new Iraqi prime minister a promising step forward. Obama took time out of his vacation at Martha's Vineyard on Monday to express support for the prime minister-designate and urged him to quickly form an inclusive government to counter the threat posed by the Sunni militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIL.

Ever since Islamic State militants began their bloody campaign in Iraq, the United States has called on the country’s leaders to put aside their sectarian differences and form a new government that would unite Iraqis against the threat.

On Monday, Iraqi President Fouad Massoum nominated Deputy Parliament Speaker Haider al-Abadi as new prime minister and gave him 30 days to a form a new government, potentially ending the divisive eight-year rule of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Although both men are members of the Shi’ite Dawa Party, Maliki’s supporters remained defiant, saying they would fight the decision.

The veteran Iraqi leader has vowed to sue the president for failing to nominate him for a third term.

While not directly addressing Maliki, Obama on Monday urged all Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through the political process in the days ahead. Obama said he spoke with the prime minister-designate and pledged U.S. support for a government he says will address the grievances of all Iraqi people.

"Just as the United States will remain vigilant against the threat posed to our people by ISIL, we stand ready to partner with Iraq in its fight against these terrorist forces. Without question, that effort will be advanced if Iraqis continue to build on today's progress and come together to support a new and inclusive government," said Obama.

Although Maliki is resisting calls to step down, the lack of support from even those among his party shows that most Iraqis understand what's at stake, said Middle East expert David Pollock.

“The situation suggests a transition to a new leadership that will probably be more unifying for Iraq, but even after that, they are in very, very dire straits - very, very tough position because of the threat from Daish, ISIS or the Islamic State,” said Pollock.

Pentagon officials said Monday that since August 7, the U.S. military has carried out 15 targeted airstrikes against Islamic State while dropping 310 bundles of food, water and medical supplies to thousands of members of the Yazidi minority trapped by militants in Iraq’s northern Sinjar Mountains.

U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters in Washington that airstrikes have provided time for Kurdish forces to fortify their defenses, allowing them to hold territory near Irbil and retake towns from Islamic State, or ISIL, militants.

“We assess that U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have slowed ISIL’s operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances toward the province of Irbil.  However, these strikes are unlikely to affect ISIL’s overall capabilities or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria,” said Mayville.

Still, analyst Pollock said, U.S. involvement both militarily and providing humanitarian aid may tip the balance against Sunni militants.

“This will be a continuous effort to maybe not defeat, but at least to contain the threat from ISIS in Iraq, and we can do that,” said Pollock.

Pentagon officials said Monday there are no current plans to expand the air campaign beyond protecting U.S. interests in Iraq.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs