News / Middle East

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Blames Maliki for Islamist Insurgency

    FILE - Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari attends the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers in Kuwait City.FILE - Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari attends the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers in Kuwait City.
    x
    FILE - Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari attends the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers in Kuwait City.
    FILE - Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari attends the preparatory meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers in Kuwait City.
    Reuters

    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his security officials are to blame for the rise of Sunni Muslim insurgents who have seized parts of Iraq, the country's foreign minister said.

    The comments by Hoshiyar Zebari, a Kurd, are likely to worsen relations between Maliki's Shi'ite Muslim-led government and the Kurds, complicating efforts to form a power-sharing government capable of countering Islamic State militants.

    At the stake is the survival of Iraq as a unified country. Islamic State have declared a medieval-style caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria they control, alarming other Arab states who fear their campaign will embolden militants on their patch.

    “Surely the man who is responsible for the general policies bears the responsibility and the general commander of the armed force, the ministers of defense and interior also bear these responsibilities,” Zebari told al-Arabiya television.

    “There are other sides who bear responsibility, maybe political partners, but the biggest and greatest responsibility is on the person in charge of public policies.”

    On Friday, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah called on regional leaders and religious scholars to prevent Islam from being hijacked by militants. He named no groups but was alluding to violence in neighboring countries, including Iraq and Syria, where the Islamic State has executed scores of people and imposed their radical views in areas they captured.

    In July, the Kurdish political bloc ended all participation in Iraq's national government in protest over Maliki's accusation that Kurds were allowing terrorists to stay in Arbil, the capital of their semi-autonomous region known as Kurdistan.

    Maliki is currently ruling in a caretaker capacity, having won a parliamentary election in April but failing to win enough support from the Kurdish and Arab Sunni minorities as well as fellow Shi'ites to form a new government.

    The United States, the United Nations and Iraq's own Shi'ite clerics have urged lawmakers to form a new government swiftly to deal with the Sunni insurgency.

    Biggest threat since Saddam's fall

    Islamic State's offensive has whipped up sectarian tensions and threatened to dismember Iraq. The sectarian conflict poses the biggest danger to the OPEC member's stability since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein after a U.S.-led invasion.

    Maliki has appointed Hussain al-Shahristani, the Shi'ite deputy prime minister, as acting foreign minister.

    The Kurds have long dreamed of their own independent state, an aspiration that anger Maliki, who has frequently clashed with the non-Arabs over budgets, land and oil.

    After the Sunni militants arrived almost unopposed by the army, Kurdish forces seized two oilfields in northern Iraq and took over operations from a state-run oil company.

    In another move certain to infuriate the government, the  Kurdish region is pressing Washington for sophisticated weapons it says Kurdish fighters need to push back Islamist militants, Kurdish and U.S. officials said.

    Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shi'ite militias now rival the Iraqi army in its ability to confront the Islamic State, whose fighters had taken control of parts of western Iraq before their advance through the north.

    The Sunni insurgents have paused their campaign in towns just north of Baghdad, which could partly explain why U.N. figures show the number of Iraqi deaths dropped to 1,737 people, mostly civilians, in July compared to 2,400 in June.

    Still, violence is part of everyday life.

    Roadside bombs killed four people near a square in central Baghdad on Friday, medical and security sources said.

    There are signs of a backlash among Iraqis against the Islamic State, which has blown up mosques and shrines and imposed its ultra hardline vision of Islam in Mosul and other cities in controls in the north.

    One of the Islamic State's propaganda centers in Mosul, which contains a big screen where the group showcases its operations, was set ablaze on Friday night, a witness said.  

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora