Iraq in chaos: Al-Maliki takes on President and deploys troops across Baghdad
Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Security forces loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have occupied several strategic points of the capital, Baghdad, particularly around the "Green Zone", the seat of the main national institutions and diplomatic missions.
Meanwhile, al-Maliki, a Shiite, says he intends to continue with a third term in office, rejecting calls for his resignation and denouncing the President Fuad Masum, for violation of the Constitution for failing to confirm him in office.
The prime minister's show of force is a message to domestic rivals - Sunnis, but also the Shiites who do not back the government and the Kurds - in Iraq, and the United States which, in recent days gave its full backing to President Masum.
In a message released via Twitter a senior official in Washington - on the fourth day of air strikes against the Caliphate troops in the north, to halt the advance in Kurdish territory - expressed "full support for the Iraqi president Fuad Masum, as guarantor of the Constitution".
The Prime Minister's party which swept the elections last April, is waiting to receive its assignment for a third term. However, internal fringes and the international community - the United States, United Nations, European governments - have been asking the Prime Minister to step down, in favour of a broader national unity government.
Al Maliki has come under fire of criticism for having been unable to reconcile with the Sunnis or ensure security in the nation, especially in the last few months with the advance of the militias of the Islamic Caliphate (formerly Isis, Islamic State Iraq and the Levant) in the north.
Many blame the Prime Minister's "confessional" policies, discriminating against Sunnis and Kurds, with having facilitated the advance of the jihadists and the support of the Iraqi Sunni world.
Meanwhile, al-Maliki has ordered the deployment of army troops and armored vehicles in the streets of the capital, after Parliament suspended the session yesterday to August 19 without having designated a candidate for prime minister. The Shiite leader has lost the support of the United States, Iran, the Shiite religious leaders and part of his own camp, but appears determined to stay in power and start a third term.
According to unwritten agreements, the prime minister belongs to the Shia community, the Speaker of Parliament is a Sunni and the President of the Republic a Kurd. Despite the last two posts having been filled in recent weeks, the leadership of the government remains vacant.
UN estimates report that July was a tragic month for Iraq, particularly for civilians, with 1,737 people killed in acts of terrorism and violence, while 1,978 others were injured.
And the central government - riven by internal feuds that have failed to oust the challenged Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki - seems unable to deal with the threat.