Entries in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (7)


Iraqi Prime Minister Calls for Unity While Violence Escalates

Photo by Iraqi Prime Minister office via Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- With sectarian-style violence hitting too close to home, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tried putting on a display of much needed national unity during a press conference in Baghdad Tuesday.

Since late April, terrorist bombings have picked up in intensity throughout the country with hundreds of fatalities and fears that Iraq could be headed back to the days when Shiites and Sunnis engaged in open warfare following the deposal of dictator Saddam Hussein.

As Maliki himself has been criticized for marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds, the leader gathered his top ministers and leading Sunni politicians "to send a message of reassurance that all are in agreement on shouldering their responsibility in confronting the outlaws regardless of their affiliation, sect or political party they belong to."

In perhaps his toughest pronouncement since the current crisis began, the prime minister vowed, "We will chase down all the illegal militias and armed gangs that want to instigate a wave of societal fighting. As far as we are concerned this constitutes a red line."

Al Qaeda militants have taken advantage of this period of uncertainty by launching more deadly bomb attacks.  Even before al-Maliki spoke, an explosion at a bus stop in Baghdad's teeming Sadr City slum killed six people and wounded 20.

This followed Monday's barrage of bombings in the capital that left nearly 70 people dead and hundreds wounded.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Lawmakers Hint at No Confidence Vote Against Prime Minister

Iraqi Prime Minister office via Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq's tenuous political environment became shakier Thursday as some members of parliament said they would renew efforts to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Since U.S. forces were withdrawn last December, the Shiite leader's opponents have accused him of consolidating power in an effort to marginalize the Sunni and Kurd minorities.

Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi says he and others want the prime minister to come before parliament to answer their question about his methods of achieving national unity in the midst of their lack of faith in his regime.

Al-Nujaifi says if al-Maliki doesn't convince opponents that he has the best interests of all Iraqis in mind then they'll call for a no confidence vote in an attempt to replace him.

Getting the prime minister to sit for questions is probably easier said than done with little likelihood of him appearing before lawmakers.

However, al-Maliki could be convinced to respond if Kurdish regional president Massud Barzani and powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who have turned against his rule, apply added pressure on the prime minister.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Troops Leave Iraq: Rocky Road Ahead for Both Countries

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Eight years and four tours of duty later, Army Sgt. First Class Larry D. Green Jr. left Iraq for the final time this week.

"The joy is knowing this is a one-way trip," Green, 33, said.  "It feels good to be out. ... As we crossed the border I smiled to myself.  I said, 'I made it through to the end.'"

Nine years after a contentious, multi-billion dollar war, the United States is closing its bases in Iraq and bringing back combat troops.  The U.S. withdrawal has caused rejoicing in both countries, even though the United States and Iraq face a new set of challenges as they work to figure out a way forward.

"After nearly nine years, our war in Iraq ends this month. ... A new day is upon us," President Obama said after his meeting Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was in Washington, D.C., to discuss the two countries' future relationship.

Calling for the beginning of a "normal relationship" between the two countries, Obama hailed the beginning of a new chapter and reaffirmed the United States' "strong presence in the Middle East."

But the new chapter for both countries is filled with enormous challenges.  Iraq continues to be rocked by Sunni-Shia, Kurdish-Iraqi violence and the absence of a strong, stable regime.  For the United States, the growing influence of Iran on one border and Syria on the other is a continuing cause of concern.

It will be a difficult road ahead, some experts say, given the lack of direction on both fronts.

"It's obvious that we have to redefine our position in the rest of the Gulf and the region, but no one at present can figure out what our role should be," said Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  "The concept of having Iraq as a friendly, strong and democratic state is not a strategy.  It's a goal.  It's a goal which we have no plan as yet to meet."

The Iraq war has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $700 billion, with the monthly cost touching $4 billion.  Nearly 4,500 Americans and 104,000 Iraqis have died since the war began, and more than 32,000 Americans have been wounded.

There are 5,500 U.S. troops in Iraq today, down from the peak of 170,000 in 2007.

In all likelihood, the United States will maintain a strong civil presence in the country and troops in neighboring countries such as Kuwait.  But the direction of Iraq and the U.S. relationship remain hazy and neither of the two leaders on Monday mentioned any specific steps they will take, except to say that there will be a "comprehensive partnership."

Maliki's "visit is little more than an exercise in political symbolism.  It is celebrating a victory that really doesn't exist yet.  While the war in the narrowest sense may be over, there is no end game here,"Cordesman said.  "Given all the costs and the blood and the money, it's difficult to describe this as any kind of victory, particularly because when we went in, we destroyed Iraq's conventional forces, and they are years away from any meaningful recovery."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iraq Pulls the Plug on Electricity Minister

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- One of the perpetual problems in Iraq for years has been frequent power outages.  Now, on top of that, Iraqis have just shed light on the fact that the guy running the electricity ministry was into some shady practices.

According to an investigation, Electricity Minister Raad Shalal made $1.7 billion dollars in deals with Canadian and German companies, neither of which was qualified to manufacture electricity.  In fact, one German news source alleges that the companies most likely didn't exist.

As a result, Shalal was sacked by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  The investigation will now turn to whether Shalal and others may have tried to profit from the venture.

Electricity cuts during the summer are a way of life in Iraq, forcing many residents there to use private generators for power.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iraqi PM: American Troops Can Stay Longer

PRNewsFoto/Academy for Educational Development(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq's leader says if the various political blocs want U.S. troops to stay longer, he wouldn't oppose that.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says what's needed is a 'consensus' and he would like to have a firm decision by the end of the month. If a solid majority of the political parties back a U.S. troop extension, then, he says, he would go along with that -- a departure from his previous position.

Al-Maliki also warned against gridlock on the key issue, saying that would reflect badly on any political bloc refusing to hammer out a decision.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Vice President Biden Arrives in Baghdad to Meet with Iraqi Political Leaders

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (BAGHDAD) -- Vice President Biden has arrived in Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi political leaders.

This is Biden’s seventh trip to Iraq since January 2009. He traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan already this week.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqiyya leader Ayad Allawi, President Jalal Talabani, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and other political leaders.

Last month he commended Iraq’s political leaders for the formation and swearing-in of the new coalition government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“There are many challenges ahead, but I am convinced Iraq is up to them.  The United States stands ready to help and to strengthen even more the important partnership we have built,” Biden said in a paper statement in December.

Biden was in regular contact with Iraqi leaders over the last nine months as they struggled to form this coalition. He traveled to Baghdad in late August to mark the official end of the U.S. combat mission there and also met with Maliki and Allawi, the former prime minister who lead a Sunni-backed coalition that was jockeying for power with Maliki since the March elections.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Iraqi Prime Minister Says US Not Welcome After 2011

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has closed the door on any possibility that American troops might be asked to stay in Iraq beyond the mutually agreed end of 2011 pullout date. Maliki says his country's security forces are more than up to the task of taking on whatever security threats remain in Iraq.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Maliki said the security deal with the U.S. will not be renegotiated.

In late 2008, the Bush administration and Maliki's government agreed on a security pact that required U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Working within that agreement, the Obama administration set its own timetable to reduce the number of U.S. troops to 50,000 by September of this year.

There are currently 48,500 American troops left in Iraq conducting a training and assistance mission that is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2011. A U.S. defense official tells ABC News the plan is to maintain these force levels through the summer of 2011 at which point the size of the force could be reduced by a brigade. Further force reductions would not occur until the end of the year.

Though al Qaeda insurgents continue to launch high profile bombings in Iraq, Maliki told the Journal the ongoing security threat was something Iraqi security forces could handle.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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