News / Middle East

Iraq’s Prime Minister Agrees to Renounce Power

aq's prime minister for the past eight years, Nouri al-Maliki, speaks at a podium surrounded by Iraqi lawmakers, during an address to the nation, announcing that he is stepping down in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 14, 2014.
aq's prime minister for the past eight years, Nouri al-Maliki, speaks at a podium surrounded by Iraqi lawmakers, during an address to the nation, announcing that he is stepping down in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 14, 2014.
VOA News

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to renounce power, telling the Iraqi people he will give up his post to his replacement, moderate Shi'ite Haider al-Abadi.

Appearing on state television late Thursday flanked by Abadi and other Shi'ite politicians, Maliki said he was withdrawing his candidacy in favor of Abadi in order to "ease the movement of the political process and the formation of the new government."

Maliki had faced enormous pressure at home and abroad to step aside, dropping his bid for a third term as prime minister of Iraq and ending a legal challenge to Abadi’s nomination by Iraqi President Fouad Massoum, which took place on Monday.

The White House praised the development, saying Maliki's backing of nominee Abadi marks "another major step forward in uniting the country." National Security Adviser Susan Rice noted statements of global support for Abadi, a member of Maliki’s Shi’ite Islamist Dawa party.

Maliki had been struggling for weeks to stay on as prime minister amid an attempt by opponents to push him out. They have accused him of monopolizing power and pursuing a narrowly pro-Shi'ite agenda that has alienated Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

The Maliki resignation comes just three days after he took to the airwaves to announce he would not accept the Abadi nomination. Maliki and his backers argued that he was entitled to the nomination for a third term by law because his political bloc is the largest in parliament.

Western governments and Iran, along with Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish parliamentary factions, have for days urged Maliki to resign.  

Fighting rages

Pressure mounted as Islamic State militants press their ongoing military onslaught in the northern and western parts of the country, with little opposition from outmanned Iraqi forces.

U.S. Central Command said Thursday that U.S. fighter jets and drones attacked and destroyed two heavily armed vehicles operated by militants who had been firing on Kurdish forces in the north. 

Authorities said one of the two airstrikes targeted an armored truck thought to have been supplied by U.S. forces to the Iraqi military and later captured by militants.

The latest U.S. strikes are the second such action in as many days. President Barack Obama said the strikes have broken the militant group's siege on a northern mountain where members of Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities had sought refuge.

Obama said the situation on Mount Sinjar has greatly improved, and said he does not believe an additional operation will be needed to evacuate the refugees.

U.S. President Barack Obama praises American troops for aiding Iraqi refugees on Mount Sinjar.U.S. President Barack Obama praises American troops for aiding Iraqi refugees on Mount Sinjar.
U.S. President Barack Obama praises American troops for aiding Iraqi refugees on Mount Sinjar.
U.S. President Barack Obama praises American troops for aiding Iraqi refugees on Mount Sinjar.

A team of fewer than 20 U.S. military and civilian advisers who'd inspected the area Wednesday informed the president that many of the thousands of Yazidis fleeing Sunni extremists already had left the mountain and that those who remained were in satisfactory condition.

Of an estimated 4,500 people still on Sinjar, half are herders who intend to remain, the Associated Press reported earlier Thursday, citing two U.S. officials.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the herders had lived on Sinjar before the siege and were not interested in evacuating. 

At a news briefing Thursday, Obama said that, given the progress, "the bulk of military forces will be leaving in the coming days." He praised U.S. troops for executing airstrikes and humanitarian airdrops "almost flawlessly."

But, the president said, "the situation remains dire" in other Iraqi regions where the insurgents at times have overwhelmed Iraqi and Kurdish militia and terrorized civilians.

"We're going to be working with our international partners" to continue support for Iraqis, he said, again stressing that would be done without the use of ground combat troops.

Duhok, Mosul and Irbil, IraqDuhok, Mosul and Irbil, Iraq
Duhok, Mosul and Irbil, Iraq
Duhok, Mosul and Irbil, Iraq

Humanitarian crisis

Attacks by Sunni militants since June have displaced thousands of minority Iraqi Christians and Yazidis as IS expands its self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Elsewhere, in western Iraq, Sunni insurgents battled Iraqi government troops in the city of Fallujah, with at least four children and a woman killed in the fighting, the Associated Press reported.

The attack underscores the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country, which the United Nations on Wednesday labeled at its highest level of emergency.

Thursday's fighting in Fallujah took place only 65 kilometers, or 40 miles, west of Baghdad. The city has been under the militants' control since early this year.

VOA's Victor Beattie contributed to this report, as did the Associated Press and Reuters news services.

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Comment Sorting
by: Kevin from: San Diego
August 14, 2014 4:59 PM
Mission accomplished!! Oh, wait Bush already said that.

by: Bruce Conway from: Victoria, BC
August 14, 2014 2:13 PM
I disagree with some of the comments below. Obama, and the courageous U.S. troops who carried out the mission, should get full points.

It was his predecessor that destabilized the whole region due to one of "the biggest blunders in military history".

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 14, 2014 1:10 PM
What a way to chicken out! How much is life worth in USA and to USA? This is a furtherance of “no boot on the ground” policy, a very stupid and cheap excuse. What is the army for in the real fact? A few years past US mothers, sisters and girlfriends were crying with placards displaying their disgust for military operation. The question then is, why does the US still have and keep an army, for decoration? An army that fears terrorists and does not mind if civilians, children are killed, massacred and starved because it won’t lose boots is not an army. The former Nigerian Afro Beat musician once sang, “Soldier wey no know him work na suegwe o”.

The civilized countries of the world, while creative in making and instigating wars, are making wars look like only Hollywood box office production, something only good for Disney land adventures. That is why if their soldiers go to war and die, they carry placards to protest. And because of their sons now see war not as serious business, they join the army for fun and fail woefully in the warfront when the chips are down. That is why the great USA army failed catastrophically in the Afghanistan wars, and Israel cannot quickly complete its campaign in Gaza which is only a few hectares of land space, as it continues to pose a bone in the neck to Israel year in year out. Likewise US army in Iraq and other campaigns, thereby showing the lesser armies how not invincible they are.

But it was the late great president Ronald Regan of USA who said, “if you want peace, prepare for war”. Since the Democrats think war regime should be left for Republicans, the world has always come under intense pressure and threat of destruction each time they are in office, especially from the islamist world. It is either they incubate the wars or when they inherit it, coax and pamper it to linger longer than necessary. at?

by: Christina from: California
August 14, 2014 9:50 AM
There is literally a holocaust happening right now in Iraq. How is this holocaust not even mentioned in this article??? There are hundreds of Christians being murdered by Islamic State BECAUSE they are Christians. This report is not only blind, it is trying to put into positive light something truly horrific. To Victor Beattie and VoA: I expect better of you.
In Response

by: Harry Kuheim from: USA
August 14, 2014 5:23 PM
Sorry you'll have to wait until ISIS kills some Gays or Trans-genders...then the Media, Obama, and the Left be outraged and this will be Front Page News then.

by: MOE from: West Palm Beach
August 14, 2014 9:47 AM
The president waited so long the genocide was almost completed, this is a PR stunt to minimize the presidents lack of leadership.

by: Anonymous
August 14, 2014 9:32 AM
Playing down the numbers to excuse US incompetence
In Response

by: AndyfromChicago from: Chicago, USA
August 14, 2014 10:38 AM
@Anonymous: How does the rescue of the Yazidis situation evince any "US incompetence," other than George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq (which destabilized the entire region)? ISIS' barbaric behavior is truly horrifying, and we should support the humanitarian use of U.S. forces to feed the refugees, and to help them escape from Mt. Sinar.

However, we should not commit our forces to any more fighting in Iraq. The Middle East is the "powder keg" of the world; until its residents outgrow their apparently endless blood lust, I simply do not believe that further military action by the United States will provide any long term solutions.
In Response

by: Seth Hubert from: US
August 14, 2014 9:47 AM
^ Hiding behind "anonymous" for abso'lutely certain - to sling mud at people helping people. ^

by: 007007 from: NC USA
August 14, 2014 8:12 AM
The U.S. Defense Department helping Yazidis it sounds so good. But U.S. is providing largest foreign aid tax money which we borrowed from other country to Israel for killing so many Palestinian at Gaza. The rocket attacks from Gaza does not cause much danger to Israel. It looks like small Fire Work on the 4th. But Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows Jewish settlement housing over 4000 units in 2013, an increase of 70 percent over the number begun during the same period in 2012.

The land is taking from Israeli authorities demolished 561 Palestinian homes and other buildings in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) displacing 933 Palestinian. Israeli authorities demolished every structure in the Palestinian communities of Tel al-`Adassa, near Jerusalem, and Khillet Mak-hul, in the northern Jordan Valley. Hope President Carter's voice can be heard through the "new media". I do not understand the bi-standard practice. Which group is the major influence to our Congress or President to make such decision? We also do not follow the United Nation's decision at middle east crisis. When we corner a cat or dog he will bite.

by: Humey Nwokolo Esq from: Enugu, Nigeria
August 14, 2014 7:48 AM
When Israeli airstrikes kill people in Gaza there is always demonstrations in many cities in Europe & Middle East. Now Iraqi christians & Yazidi sect of Sinjar are being eliminated and nobody is demonstrating. Does it mean that some people are more human than the others or that some can do anything they like with impunity?
In Response

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
August 14, 2014 10:27 PM
Our demonstration against the killing of Arabs in Gaza doesn't mean we are out to condemn Israelis but only to beg them to stop the killings of Arab children, because we care Israeli government so much, we don't want them to stumble down into "international war crime indictment zone". But here in Iraq who cares if Arab Muslim kills Arab Christian or Arab atheist slaughters Arab secular.
In other words, nobody gives a damn if white police officers continue killing innocent young black men in point-blank at any where in USA.
Welcome to new world order, bro!
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 14, 2014 9:34 AM
Agree, good observation.
In Response

by: James from: UK
August 14, 2014 8:40 AM
neither, my African friend... it means that deep inside we all (all of humanity) look up to Israel. And that attitude generate envy and jealousy in many people. So, some of us, the really bottom feeders, like the "Baroness" Warsis (LOL) of this world, try to veil their envy and jealousy and sheer spiteful resentment of Israel under some "politically correct" sound like "we care for the children" - nobody cared for the Arab children when they are systematically gassed by Assad... en mass... nobody cares for the brutal rape of children by Hamas members as suicide bombers recruiting tool... the list of Islamic depravity against the weak and powerless is endless... But Israel, well, Israel is different.

The story of Israel is at the core of the soul of humanity. Look, we are about to have WW3 in Ukraine, and nobody even cares about the atrocities in Ukraine... Boko Haram is devastating Africa on a scale of Islamic depravity of ISIL in the Middle East... who cares.? Islamists are Inundating Europe... the US is disintegrating... NOBODY CARES.!!! but, ISRAEL well Israel is different. when it comes to Israel - we care. I read on one of the VOA comments someone said that we learn the name of Israel before we learn our own name... and that is true.

by: Hans from: Germany
August 14, 2014 7:22 AM
oh... so when they wanted our help we were treated to pictures of blue eyed baby girls - and now, when they do not want our help we are treated to pictures of filthy Arab youth mob that we know how disgusting they are and have seen all over Europe.

Amazing how we are manipulated through simple imagery. its like in Gaza... did you ever see a dead Hamas terrorist.? - NO. they showed us only dead children that on an ordinary day Hamas members kill just by rape alone... as a tool of recruiting suicide murderers... but think, knowing what we know about the incredible precision and technological sophistication of Israel, are you telling me that Israel hit no Hamas terrorists.? come on... you know that there must be hundreds of dead Hamas terrorists.

well, however that ends up, i only know that whatever happens in Israel will ultimately visit us here, we have seen it with the bombing of the Trains in Spain and the bombing of the Buses in England... we must expect to see rockets soon. the real question would be what would we do when the rockets start landing on our cities from Islamic enclaves here in Europe... how would we respond... mass deportation..? Police..? Military..? whatever it might be, we have to start thinking about it... you know its coming..!!!
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
August 14, 2014 9:13 AM
Hey Hans from Germany... The Israel military news blog reported that they killed over 900 Hamas fighters, or 47% of the Palestinians killed by them, (but), they haven't evidence or pictures to support their estimates, (but), they say it's true.... Yea, the news media withheld those horrific Jewish ghetto and concentration camp holocaust pictures from the public too, didn't they?

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