Iraq Watch: Maliki denounces calls for unity government as ‘coup,’ Syria reportedly bombs ISIS targets in Iraq


Iraq Watch

The latest news from Iraq. For more Iraq coverage, visit McClatchyDC

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday denounced calls to form an emergency unity government as a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience.”

Maliki, who is Shia, has faced criticism from the U.S. and rival Iraqi politicians for failing to include minority Sunni and Kurdish groups in the political process. But in his weekly television address, the BBC reports, the prime minister wouldn’t agree to give religious or ethnic minority groups greater representation.

Maliki said that a “national salvation” government wouldn’t be representative of the results of April’s parliamentary elections, which awarded his own party 92 of 328 seats.

At the same time, he urged “all political forces” to reconcile in the face of a fierce terrorist onslaught by radical Sunni fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“We desperately need to take a comprehensive national stand to defeat terrorism, which is seeking to destroy our gains of democracy and freedom,” Maliki said.

Today’s other developments in Iraq:

-Reports on Wednesday that Syrian airstrikes on ISIS targets in Anbar province in Iraq had killed 57 people and wounded more than 100 others were denied by Syrian state media, according to CNN.

-A suicide bombing and shelling killed 12 people south of Baghdad, the Lebanese Daily Star reports.

-The fate of Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Beiji remains unclear Wednesday, but Reuters reports that ISIS militants have seized several smaller oil fields east of Tikrit, which together produce 28,000 barrels per day. The news agency also reported that militants had attacked an air base near the town of Yathrib that was known by U.S. troops as “Camp Anaconda.”

-A New York Times / CBS News poll found deepening dissatisfaction with the president’s handling of the Iraq crisis, with 58 percent disapproving of the way Barack Obama handles foreign policy, a 10 percent jump since last month, the Times reports.

-Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday said he was opposed to the presence of U.S. military advisers in Iraq, and vowed that his followers would “shake the ground” in combat with Sunni militants, AFP reports.

- The Washington Post profiles the new “Baghdad Bob,” an Iraqi government official who reassures Iraqis “everything is going very well” at daily briefings amid the chaos.

-Fighters from the Sunni “Awakening” movement in Iraq once were U.S. allies. Now they’re staying on the sidelines of the fight with ISIS, according to this L.A. Times article.

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