The National Axis, a Sunni-leaning parliamentary bloc, has nominated Mohamed al-Halbusi for the post of speaker of Iraq’s recently-elected parliament.
In a statement, National Axis spokesman Laith al-Deleimi said the bloc had chosen its “sole nominee” for the post, which, under Iraq’s constitution (promulgated after the 2003 U.S. invasion), is reserved for a Sunni Muslim.
A National Axis source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency that the bloc had informed other parliamentary coalitions regarding al-Halbusi’s nomination.
Turkish FM meets Chinese envoy, Iraqi Turkmen leader
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday met with China's special representative and the leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF).During his separate meetings with Le Yucheng and Arshad Salihi, Cavusoglu discussed the latest developments, according to his twitter account.“Evaluated current issues with Le Yucheng, special representative of the Chinese government. We are intensifying Turkey-China contacts at all levels,” said Çavuşoğlu.“We discussed current issues in Iraq and the condition of our Turkmen brethren with Iraqi Turkmen Front President Arshad Salihi and Vice-President Hasan Turan” he added in a later tweet.Video: Turkish FM meets Arshad Salihi in Ankara
The source added, however, that the position of parliament’s main Shia and Kurdish blocs regarding al-Halbusi’s candidacy “still remains unclear”.
Other prominent Sunni politicians nominated for the post include former Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi and current Vice-President Osama al-Nujaifi.
On Saturday, parliament will try -- for the third time -- to elect a new assembly speaker, along with two deputies.
60,000 cases of water poisoning in Basra: Iraq watchdog
At least 60,000 people have suffered temporary poisoning due to polluted water in Iraq’s southern Basra province, Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR), a parliamentary body, said Wednesday.“We’re watching with concern as the adverse effects of pollution continue to mount in Basra, where we have documented 60,000 cases of temporary poisoning [due to tainted drinking water],” Mahdi al-Tamimi, head of IHCHR’s Basra office, said.“This is a serious environmental disaster affecting the lives of all Basra residents,” he added.Last month, Iraq’s Water Resources Ministry reported that the percentage of dissolved salts had reached 7,500 tds (total dissolved solids) in the Shatt al-Arab waterway, Basra’s main source of drinking water.The World Health Organization, meanwhile, has set 1,200 tds as the maximum level for safe drinking water.In August, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered local authorities in Basra to repair dilapidated water desalination plants and antiquated water networks.He also instructed Iraq’s defense and transportation ministries to allocate vehicles to assist in delivering potable water to citizens.Since July 9, Iraq’s Shia-majority southern and central provinces -- especially Basra -- have been rocked by a wave of popular protests which at one point spread to capital Baghdad.Demonstrators demand improved public utilities, including water and electricity; more job opportunities; and an end to alleged government corruption.Meanwhile, negotiations over the outlines of Iraq’s next government remain the subject of controversy as leading political parties and groups struggle to forge a parliamentary majority following hotly-disputed elections conducted in May.
Last week, parliament postponed the election for speaker to mid-September after a number of lawmakers decided to boycott the vote.
Within 30 days of its first session, which was held early last week, parliament should elect -- by a two-thirds majority -- the country’s next president, according to the terms of the constitution.
The new president will then task the majority bloc in parliament with drawing up a government, the outlines of which must be referred back to the assembly for final approval.
US says Iran to pay for any attack on missions in Iraq
The White House threatened Tuesday to hold Iran responsible for any attacks by Tehran’s allies on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Iraq.In a written statement, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Iran did not act to stop “attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training and weapons"."The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States Government facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives."Sanders was referring to incidents in Iraq over the weekend in which American facilities had come under threat.On Saturday, several rockets were fired towards Basra airport in the country’s south, which also houses the U.S. consulate. The same day, rockets were fired in Baghdad towards the heavily fortified Green Zone, where the U.S. embassy is located.The incidents occurred days after protesters torched government buildings in Basra amid growing unrest over high unemployment and poor public services.Angry mobs in Basra also torched the Iranian Consulate on Friday.Since July 9, Iraq’s Shia-majority central and southern provinces -- especially Basra -- have been rocked by protests demanding better public services, more job opportunities and an end to government corruption.At least 30 people have been killed and scores injured since the protests began, according to Iraqi authorities.
Turkey ramps up diplomatic efforts as Iraq spirals into chaos
The power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia has sparked internal conflict in Iraq, which has yet to agree on a government, engulfing the country in protests that have resulted in death and violence.The international community is worried about the protests that began in Baghdad spreading across the country.As Iraq’s and Syria’s territorial integrity are on the top of Turkey’s agenda, it has been ascertained that Ankara should take action to soften the crisis, send delegations to the region and take urgent measures in Iraq.Since July 9, Iraq’s Shia-majority central and southern provinces -- especially Basra -- have been rocked by protests to demand better public services, more job opportunities and an end of government corruption.Tension between Shi’ite Iran and Saudi Arabia’s conservative Sunni monarchy has run high in recent years. The two countries have backed opposing forces in wars across the Middle East, usually along sectarian lines.Since Saddam Hussein was toppled in a 2003 U.S. invasion, power has been shared among Iraq’s three largest ethnic-sectarian components. The prime minister is a Shi’ite Arab, the speaker of parliament a Sunni Arab and the president a Kurd. Tensions rise day by dayThe crisis comes at a time when politicians still have not agreed on a government after an inconclusive election in May. The new parliament met for the first time on Monday, but failed to elect a prime minister or even speaker.Iraqi experts and army officials are worried about a civil war breaking out in the country after thousands of militias were dispatched to the region.For more than two months, the results of Iraq’s hard-fought parliamentary polls had remained the subject of a bitter dispute amid widespread allegations of voter fraud.According to the results, Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Sairoon Coalition won 54 parliamentary seats, followed by a Hashd al-Shaabi-led coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's Victory Bloc (42 seats).Parliament convened an emergency session on Saturday to discuss the crisis in Basra and the current prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, warned that the situation could descend into armed conflict.“Politics should be separated from security and services,” he said.At least 30 protesters have reportedly been killed -- and scores more injured -- in clashes with security forces since the beginning of the conflict. In recent days, protesters have torched government and political party headquarters as well as the Iranian consulate.Turkish army ‘neutralizes’ two PKK terrorists in N. IraqPM arrives in Iraq’s protest-hit Basra provinceTurkey ready to help BaghdadTurkey’s counter-terrorism operations in northern Iraq and the new Ovaköy project which enhanced ties between Ankara and Baghdad disturb Western countries.The Ovaköy border gate project is an alternative to the Ibrahim Khalil (Habur) border crossing located between Turkey and the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, and will cut off the U.S. weapons supply to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terror group.Turkey's Ambassador to Baghdad Fatih Yıldız is a key factor in relations with his diplomatic efforts, closely following the developments, and is in constant contact with Baghdad.Since the beginning of the conflict, Turkey conveyed messages of support to Iraq, saying that it was ready to help.“Turkey is ready to assist Iraq in water management and agricultural irrigation,” Yıldız said in August.On the other hand, the Turkish Consulate-General in Iraq's southern city of Basra, which was closed for security reasons in 2014, is considered to be reopened in near future.Iraqi groups demand prime minister's resignationIraqi officials impose Basra curfew amid violent protests