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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid