Constitutional crisis: Power struggle as Iraq PM is replaced but refuses to go

Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected a transition to Haidar al-Abadi as his successor, escalating political tensions in Baghdad amid a growing threat from Sunni insurgents. Iraq’s President Fouad Masoum earlier today asked Abadi, a Shiite who is deputy speaker of parliament, to form a new cabinet, a move that drew quick public support from the U.S. Maliki called the action “legally worthless,” and his opposition threatens to extend a three-month political stalemate that’s helped the militant Sunni fighters of the Islamic State of the Levant and Iraq (ISIL) seize swaths of the country.

You, the Iraqi people, and the security forces are in a holy battle. Don’t panic. We will fix the mistakes.

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraqi Prime Minister

Stressing his position that there is “no American military solution” to the Iraq crisis, President Barack Obama called Abadi’s nomination to replace the controversial Nuri al-Maliki “a promising step.” The U.S. and some Iraqi leaders have blamed Maliki’s divisive policies for the success of the Sunni insurgents, and President Barack Obama has tied expanded U.S. military strikes to formation of a more inclusive government to ease sectarian and ethnic divisions. U.S. airstrikes are having only a “temporary effect” on thwarting the insurgents in northern Iraq, U.S. Lieutenant General William Mayville told reporters at the Pentagon today.

The most prominent foreign players in Iraq are the Iranians and the Americans. Today, al-Maliki has lost both.

Watheq al-Hashimi, director of the Iraqi Group for Strategic Studies