Iraq parliament delayed for five weeks, general killed near Baghdad

Iraq parliament delayed for five weeks, general killed near Baghdad
# 08 July 2014 00:05 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Iraq's new parliament postponed its next session for five weeks on Monday, extending the country's political paralysis in the face of a Sunni Islamist insurgency which claimed the life of an army general on the northwestern outskirts of Baghdad, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Citing the inability of political camps to reach "understanding and agreement" on nominations for the top three posts in government, the office of acting speaker Mehdi al-Hafidh said parliament would not meet again until Aug. 12.

Putting off the work of reaching consensus for five weeks is a slap in the face to efforts by Iraq's Shi'ite clergy - along with the United States, the United Nations and Iran - to foster an inclusive government to hold the country together.

With no signs that Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will abandon his bid for a third term, there is a risk that Iraq will fragment along ethnic and sectarian lines.

"Things are moving faster than the politicians can make decisions," a senior Shi'ite member of parliament told Reuters.

The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, and a patchwork of Sunni insurgents are holding territory they seized in northern and western Iraq last month.

Kurds, who run their own autonomous region in northern Iraq, have taken advantage of the chaos to expand their territory.

Maliki's opponents blame his divisive rule for fuelling the political crisis and want him to step aside. They accuse him of ruling for the Shi'ite majority at the expense of the Sunni and Kurdish minorities.

Maliki said last week that he hoped to overcome the challenges blocking the formation of a new government after the new parliament's first session ended without agreement on the top posts of prime minister, president and parliament speaker.

Attempts by Iraqi government forces to push militants out of cities that they seized have not yet resulted in visible gains on the ground. The government has yet to take back the rebel-held city of Tikrit since it began an offensive on June 28.

A senior Iraqi general was killed in fighting with insurgents close to Baghdad on Monday, as the army fights to hold militants back from the capital.

Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army's sixth division, responsible for defending part of Baghdad, was killed just 16 km (10 miles) northwest of the capital.

Top U.S. defense officials, who have deployed advisers to the region to assess the state of the Iraqi military, said last week the security forces were able to defend the capital but would have difficulty going on the offensive to recapture lost territory, mainly because of logistic weaknesses.

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