The New York Times reports: With tens of thousands of protesters marching in the streets of Baghdad to demand changes in government, Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, appeared before Parliament this week hoping to speed the process by introducing a slate of new ministers. He was greeted by lawmakers who tossed water bottles at him, banged on tables and chanted for his ouster.
“This session is illegal!” one of them shouted.
Leaving his squabbling opponents behind, Mr. Abadi moved to another meeting room, where supportive lawmakers declared a quorum and approved several new ministers — technocrats, not party apparatchiks — as a step to end sectarian politics and the corruption and patronage that support it.
But, like so much else in the Iraqi government, the effort fell short, with only a handful of new ministers installed and several major ministries, including oil, foreign and finance, remaining in limbo. A new session of Parliament on Thursday was canceled.
Almost two years after the Islamic State swept through northern Iraq, forcing the Obama administration to re-engage in a conflict it had celebrated as complete, Iraq’s political system is barely functioning, as the chaotic scenes in Parliament this week demonstrated. [Continue reading…]
Kevin Knodell writes: Iraqi security forces backed by the U.S.-led international coalition have launched a campaign to dislodge Islamic State militants from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
It’s an ambitious operation involving multiple factions — and one that could determine the country’s fate as it struggles to eject ISIS and hold itself together amid sectarian bickering.
For even as the anti-ISIS coalition wages this decisive battle, Kurdish troops are clashing with Shia militiamen in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
Fighting erupted on the night of April 23 after Shia militiamen allegedly threw a grenade into the house of a Peshmerga commander in the town. Several Peshmerga and Shia fighters have died in the ensuing clashes.
Leaders from the two sides worked out a truce, but the peace is fragile. Such internal fighting is becoming a nearly monthly occurrence as the two groups in the town — ostensibly allies in the battle against Islamic State — fail to find common ground aside from their mutual enemy.
It’s a sobering reminder that even if the alliance manages to dislodge the Islamic State from Mosul, Iraq will continue to suffer sectarian violence. [Continue reading…]