Iraqi Prime Minister Rejects Sunni Resignations

( LatWp ) - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused Sunday to accept the resignations of six Cabinet members, keeping open the door for a possible return of Sunni ministers whose departure last week caused a crisis in his unity government.

Members of the Sunni bloc known as the Iraqi Accordance Front, or Tawafiq in Arabic, said al-Maliki's action would not affect their decision. But a senior member held out the possibility that a resolution could be reached at an upcoming summit of leaders of Iraq's main ethnic and religious blocs.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, announced the deaths of four soldiers. At least 3,669 U.S. personnel have been killed since the start of the Iraq war in 2003, according to the Web site, which tracks military casualties.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he believed the troop buildup completed in June was beginning to improve security but blamed Iraqi politicians for failing to pass legislation aimed at reconciliation.

He expressed disappointment at the Sunni withdrawal from Cabinet, as well as parliament's decision to take the month of August off. He told NBC's ``Meet the Press'' that he had urged the country's presidency council, which consists of its president and two vice presidents, not to follow parliament's example.

His message, he said, was blunt: ``For every day that we buy you, we're buying it with American blood, and the idea of you going on vacation is unacceptable.''

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice struck a more conciliatory note, telling ''Fox News Sunday`` that ''the leadership is not on recess, and the presidency council and the prime minister are still working.`` But she said the Bush administration had told the Iraqis that they needed to work harder.

U.S. officials, under pressure to show progress in a report to be delivered in Congress on Sept. 15, had hoped that giving Iraq's Sunni Arab minority a stake in the government would foster reconciliation with the majority Shiite Muslims.

President Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd who has been leading efforts to save the unity government, said al-Maliki had informed him of his decision to reject the resignations during a meeting Sunday that also included Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite.

Sunni Vice President Tariq Hashemi, who has complained of being sidelined by al-Maliki and other Shiite leaders, was not invited.

At issue is what Tawafiq considers to be the refusal of the dominant Shiite alliance to treat Sunni Arabs as equal partners in the government. Some of al-Maliki's closest aides accuse Tawafiq of links to the insurgency.

Deputy Prime Minister Salam Zikam Ali Zubaie and five other Sunni ministers withdrew from Cabinet on Wednesday, citing the government's failure to respond to a long list of demands, including the release of detainees not charged with specific crimes, respect for human rights, the disbanding of private militias and the involvement of all major parties in security decisions.

Hashemi, the Sunni vice president, did not resign. The only other Sunni who remains in government is the defense minister, who does not belong to Tawafiq.

Al-Maliki, whose office accused the Sunni bloc of political blackmail when it first threatened to bolt, since has adopted a more conciliatory stance. He said Sunday that he hoped the Sunnis would reconsider and promised to act quickly on those demands that were ''legitimate and logical,`` Talabani told reporters.

Iyad Samarrai, secretary-general of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a leading member of Tawafiq, expressed hope that progress could be made at the promised summit among al-Maliki, Talabani, Hashemi, Abdul-Mahdi and Massoud Barzani, head of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region.

Samarrai said the Sunnis would ask that a new power-sharing relationship be spelled out. They also are seeking ''real action`` on their demands.

''To be considered as equal partners, this is the main issue,`` Samarrai said. No date has been set for the summit.

The U.S. military released new details about the killing of the alleged mastermind behind the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra last year that unleashed a torrent of sectarian killing and was a turning point in Iraq's civil war.

Haitham Sabah Shaker Mohammed al-Badri was among at least four men spotted by surveillance aircraft Thursday setting up what appeared to be an ambush for troops participating in a U.S. raid east of Samarra, said Rear Adm. Mark I. Fox, a military spokesman.

U.S. helicopters strafed the position, killing the four suspects, including al-Badri and one foreigner, the military said. Ground forces also found weapons and detained seven other suspects at the site, the military said.

Fox identified al-Badri as an operational planner for the Sunni Arab militant group al-Qaida in Iraq. Besides masterminding the February 2006 bombing that destroyed the Samarra shrine's famed golden dome, al-Badri also was responsible for a second bombing that collapsed the mosque's two minarets in June, he said.

In violence Sunday, a mortar barrage in southeast Baghdad killed at least 13 people and injured 17, police said. Some of the shells landed at a gas station, where many of the victims were lined up, causing a fireball that engulfed at least 15 cars, police said.

Police in Baghdad also recovered the bodies of 18 people shot execution style, considered an indication of sectarian killing. Two women were among the victims.

WHO says COVID-19 vaccine supply hitches could reignite upticks in Africa
WHO says COVID-19 vaccine supply hitches could reignite upticks in Africa
Ambedkar remembered on birth anniversary in Dubai
Ambedkar remembered on birth anniversary in Dubai
AzTV releases video on April 2016 battles: "We honor the April victory with pride!"
AzTV releases video on April 2016 battles: "We honor the April victory with pride!"
Loading Bars
Emergency session of OIC to be held on May 16 at Turkey’s initiative, Ankara says
Turkey aims to create electric vehicle market
Uzbekistan imported more than 200 million liters of gasoline in Jan-Apr 2021
Iranian, Spanish FMs exchange views on economic, trade coop.
Kazakh, Polish, Ukrainian and Arabian airlines to resume flights to Batumi
All international airlines halt air service with Israel
IDF confirms its strike on Gaza building after advance warning to civilians
Azerbaijani and Tajik FMs discuss situation on Azerbaijani-Armenian border
Fitch Ratings forecasts inflation rate in Azerbaijan for 2021-22
Nordwind launches direct flights from St. Petersburg to Baku from May 18
US ambassador to Azerbaijan, USAID director meet with Azerbaijani MP
Shooting occurred on border with Iran, two Azerbaijani border guards were killed
Suez Canal starts dredging work to extend double lane
At least 2,300 missiles fired at Israel from Gaza Strip since May 10
Africa's COVID-19 cases pass 4.67 mln: Africa CDC
Turkish Airlines resumes flights to Azerbaijan's Ganja (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens for May 15
France's import value of Turkish cement rises
Azerbaijan confirms 377 more COVID-19 cases, 1,318 recoveries
Azerbaijan's government budget deficit to narrow in 2021-2022 - Fitch Ratings
Azerbaijan's olive oil company entering Russian market
Turkey's revenues from exporting electrical goods to France increase
Fitch Ratings anticipates Azerbaijan's GDP growth in 2021
Value of Georgia's import of Turkish clothes grows
China's import value of Turkish electrical goods up in 4M2021
Turkey unveils number of ships docking at Tuzla port in 1Q2021
French import of grains from Turkey rises in value
Fitch predicts growth in foreign direct investments in Azerbaijan
U.S. requires inspections for wire failure on Boeing 737 Classic planes
Azerbaijani oil prices rebound
Iran hoping to overcome 4-th peak of COVID-19
Iran worried about blackouts due to cryptocurrency mining at homes
Georgia increases exports of beer
Kazakhstan's import value of Turkish electrical goods disclosed
Kazakhstan’s postal operator to engage repair services via tender
Kazakh energy company opens tender for buying isolators
Uzbekistan's import value of Turkish electrical goods notably up
Walmart says fully vaccinated employees can go without masks starting Tuesday
Azerbaijani president, first lady visit secondary school No 1 and Saint Elisæus Jotaari Church in Nij settlement, Gabala (PHOTO)
Georgia reports 1,576 new cases of COVID-19
Iran hopes to start exporting gas if Vienna talks are successful
Iran's 4M2021 import of Turkish grains doubles in value
Turkey reveals 1Q2021 volume of cargo shipment via Trabzon port
Value of Turkish cement export to Germany rises
EBRD to back development renewable energy projects in Georgia
Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening ceremony of Gabala Railway Station and Laki station - Gabala single-track railway (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani president, first lady attend opening ceremony of new bridge over Bum River, road to Bum settlement after renovation (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani president, first lady visit Albanian Church of Blessed Virgin Mary in Nij settlement, Gabala (PHOTO)
Azerbaijani president, first lady arrive in Gabala district (PHOTO)
Iran inaugurating more projects in Chabahar port
Romania’s Romgaz lowers natural gas output q-o-q
No provocative actions against Russian peacekeepers noted in Karabakh - MoD
Casualties due to landmines in Azerbaijani liberated territories addressed at online conference
India: Modi releases 8th instalment of PM-KISAN benefits
Fitch revises outlook on Azerbaijan's IDR
Armed forces spearhead India’s Covid battle
UN Secretary-General counts on cooperation with Russia in supporting peace and stability
Romgaz’s investments turn out to be 39% less than planned
Spain logged hottest year on record in 2020
Romgaz sees over 7% decrease in Q1 2021 revenues
Khari Bulbul festival in Azerbaijan's Shusha became message to the world - MP
TAP AG joins other partners to submit White Dragon for IPCEI status
UAE urges Mideast ceasefire, offers condolences to all victims
Vienna Energy Research Group talks Iran's capacity in oil production, int'l oil sales
Iran to invest in Afghanistan's infrastructure projects
Petrochemical revenues to become less volatile, says McKinsey & Co.
Tickets for UEFA EURO 2020 matches in Baku up on sale (PHOTO)
Georgia’s subsistence minimum up
Azerbaijan to have two routes to Turkey within BTK corridor
Europe has right conditions for "safe reopening" of tourism in summer - EU Commissioner
Georgian-Lithuanian co-op facilitates freight transport between China, Europe - Ministry
Jan.-Apr. 2021: Georgian wine export up 15%
Demand for domestic tourism on the rise in Kazakhstan
Some 300 applicants register for Presidential elections in İran
Turkey’s 87 tech zones exports reach $5.8 billion
China's probe lands on Mars
Kazakhstan keen to cooperate with Spain in water resources management
Number of active U.S. drilling rigs increases this week
Cuba reports record number of daily COVID-19 cases
Japanese lawyer implores Tokyo to cancel Olympics, 350,000 sign petition
Romania to ease COVID-19 restrictions from Saturday
U.S. city Columbus agrees to pay 10 mln USD to family of unarmed black man killed by police
3 rockets fired from Syria toward Israel
Indonesia reports 2,633 new COVID-19 cases, 107 new deaths
Turkey reports over 14 400 COVID-19 cases)
New project 'Log in Georgia' to give access to high-speed internet to people in rural areas
Head of Kazakhstan holds meeting with World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia
Lithuanian company launches innovative complex solution in Azerbaijan's financial sector
5.2 mln Ethiopians in restive northern region need food aid - UN
Improved coronavirus conditions lead to further relaxation of restrictions in Cyprus
Israel's annual inflation up 0.8 pct, highest in nearly 2 years
Chairs of Azerbaijani Parliament, Turkish National Assembly talk issues of mutual interest
COVID-19 kills 202 more Iranians over past 24 hours
Lithuania gifts 15,000 Covid-19 vaccines to Georgia
Turkey to gradually relax COVID-19 measures, normalcy in June
President Tokayev receives Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade
First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva made another post from Karabakh (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Germany's COVID-19 incidence rate drops below 100 for first time in two months
Georgia updates environmental targets with support from EU4Climate project
Azerbaijani FM, high-ranked EU official discuss Armenian-Azerbaijani border situation
All news