Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#Iraq Parties Pressure Nouri al-Maliki to Step Down

At the Wall Street Journal, "Iraqi Parties Pressure Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Step Down: Search for Alternative to Prime Minister Grows; He Pledges to Form New Government":
BAGHDAD—Iraqi parties raised pressure on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down, as the U.S. said it drew pledges from the embattled leader and other top Iraqi politicians to begin forming a new government by July 1.

The Obama administration is betting that a new more conciliatory leadership—with or without Mr. Maliki—that unifies Iraq's sparring sectarian parties will help neutralize the mounting threat posed by Islamist insurgents in Iraq by undercutting their political support.

U.S. and Iraqi officials met in Baghdad on Monday as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, made further alarming advances across Iraq.

On Monday, the Sunni extremists launched an attack on a police convoy just 20 miles from Baghdad's center that left at least 81 people dead, a day after they captured nearly all of Iraq's remaining border crossings with neighboring Jordan and Syria.

"This is clearly a moment when the stakes for Iraq's future could not be clearer," Secretary of State John Kerry said after meeting with Mr. Maliki in Baghdad. "[ISIS's] campaign of terror, their grotesque acts of violence and repressive ideology pose a grave danger to Iraq's future."

Mr. Kerry said President Barack Obama maintained the right to strike ISIS targets at any time now that the U.S. military moved military assets into the region, including U.S. aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf.  Still, some U.S. officials were skeptical that Mr. Maliki or other Iraqi politicians would respect the July deadline or whether the leader intended to even follow the political process in a quest for a third term...