FILE: Nuri al-Maliki has given up his fight to remain prime minister of Iraq and now supports his replacement, Haider al-Abadi, state television reportsRecord ID: 677723
- Title: FILE: Nuri al-Maliki has given up his fight to remain prime minister of Iraq and now supports his replacement, Haider al-Abadi, state television reports
- Date: 14th August 2014
- Summary: BAGHDAD, IRAQ (FILE - APRIL 25, 2009) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) U.S SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON SITTING WITH MALIKI MALIKI CLINTON
- Reuters ID: LVA15U5T2WGWQ3WJVWL2ZRRAOWL1
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Duration: 00:00:13
- Topics: Politics
- Story Text: Nuri al-Maliki has given up his fight to remain prime minister of Iraq and now supports his replacement, Haider al-Abadi, state television reported on Thursday (August 14).
Maliki faced immense pressure to step aside for a less polarising figure capable of countering Islamic State militants who are posing the biggest security threat to Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The fall of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, to Sunni militants this week was facilitated by the sectarian distrust and stalemate among Iraq's political leaders.
Maliki blamed his Sunni political opponents for conspiring against him and supporting armed groups like those that took Mosul, while his Kurdish and Sunni rivals - including Mosul governor Atheel Nujaifi and brother Usama, the outgoing speaker of parliament - say he failed to heed their warnings that Mosul's implosion was coming.
Maliki emerged in 2006 as a shrewd political operator able to meld rival factions and built his reputation as the Shi'ite leader who pulled Iraq back from the brink of civil war.
Highly strung and scowling, usually with a five o'clock shadow, Maliki may be the flip-side of the smooth, ingratiating politico in the Western mould. He speaks sharply, appears quick to anger and reputedly has a long memory for grievances.
After some Shi'ite leaders accused U.S. troops of massacring unarmed worshippers at the Mustafa mosque near Baghdad's Sadr city in March 2006, Maliki, then known as Jawad al-Maliki and a senior Alliance member, demanded U.S. forces return control of security to the Iraqi government.
"The Alliance calls for a rapid restoration of (control of) security matters to the Iraqi government to prevent problems and political and security matters that push towards drawing a political future for Iraq against the background of security challenges," he said.
Maliki, a leader in the Dawa party who spent years living in Shi'ite-dominated Iran during Saddam Hussein's rule, had previously been seen as an unlikely candidate for prime minister because he was widely viewed as a sectarian politician.
But in April 2006, he won the nomination of the ruling Shi'ite Alliance for prime minister.
He sought to shake off his hardline Shi'ite image and present himself as a man capable of uniting Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds.
Maliki immediately called for Iraq's militias to be merged with the armed forces while the United States wanted them disarmed.
"Arms should only be in the hands of the government. There is a law that calls for the merging of militias with the armed forces on the basis that it does not forget its struggle against dictatorship. These militias are mentioned in the same law and they are 11 (militias)," Maliki said.
After his nomination, Maliki faced faction fighting over cabinet jobs within the main groups -- Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds - which further delayed the formation of a government until May 20, 2006 following an election in December 2005.
Maliki's first cabinet was approved by a show of hands, minister by minister, after a turbulent start to the parliamentary session, when some minority Sunni leaders spoke out against the last-minute deal and several walked out.
Already seen as having autocratic tendencies in a country where most people have known little but dictatorship, Maliki has long expressed doubt about the efficacy of his brawling partnership government of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.
President George W. Bush urged Maliki to proceed with political reconciliation among warring groups there, the White House said.
Tens of thousands of people died during Iraq's Sunni-Shi'ite bloodletting which peaked in 2006-2007.
Maliki in 2007 stressed his commitment to reconciliation and gave an update on reconciliation initiatives, which are aimed at drawing Sunni Arabs away from the insurgency and into the political process alongside majority Shi'ites and Kurds.
In 2010, although hardly a clear choice -- his Shi'ite-led coalition failed to win the most seats in the election -- Maliki muscled his way to a second term as prime minister in a power-sharing deal when no better option emerged.
"I have found out that the task of forming a government of national unity is the most difficult one in a country of diverse ethnical, sectarian and party affiliations," Maliki said nine months after an inconclusive election left politics in limbo and delayed investments to rebuild the country after years of war.
While Maliki has suggested that power-sharing won't work, he has spoken just as frequently about following the constitution.
During the U.S. occupation, Washington encouraged Maliki to reach out to the Sunni minority that lost power after Saddam's fall. But since the U.S. withdrawal, Maliki pushed Sunnis out of his ruling coalition, creating resentment insurgents exploit.
The Obama administration had tried to keep a contingent of troops in Iraq beyond 2011 to prevent a return of insurgents, but failed to reach a deal with Maliki's government.
Maliki once again won the largest share of Iraqi parliamentary seats in 2014's national elections, dealing a blow to Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish rivals who opposed his serving a third term.
Maliki's critics accuse him of leading the country to ruin. They say that four more years will turn the government into a despotic regime and risk Iraq's breakup.
They faulted him at the time of his reelection for his prosecution of his war on Islamic State in western Anbar province that has raged for five months, displaced over 420,000 Sunnis and failed to put a dent in violence around the country.
While the politicians were deadlocked in charge and counter-charge, the Sunni militants grew in strength and took advantage of their divisions, which could lead to Iraq's break-up into Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish territories.
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