LATEST: Maliki Dismisses 2 Top Commanders


Video: Islamic State Leader al-Baghdadi Makes His 1st Appearance

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki continued his defiance against political and military opponents on Friday, insisting he will run for a third term.

“I will never give up on my candidacy for the post of prime minister,” Maliki said in a statement.

Parliament nominally began the process of choosing a new Prime Minister, President, and Speaker on Tuesday, but broke up after 30 minutes in acrimony. The legislators are supposed to resume discussions on Tuesday.

Amid the insurgent offensive that has taken cities such as Mosul and Tikrit and advanced on Baghdad this month, Maliki has been under pressure to step aside for a “unity” Government. He has refused to countenance the possibility, despite an appeal by the US.

Maliki said on Friday that because his bloc won the most seats — although far from a majority — in April 30 Parliamentary elections, it retained the right to nominate the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, said he would not seek a new tenure, removing a possible obstacle to Parliamentary negotiations.

Al-Nujaifi reportedly contributed to Tuesday’s turmoil when he said at the last minute that he wanted to retain his post, despite arrangements for another Sunni politician to take over as Speaker.

“The goal of change demands sacrifice, and I am willing to do this for the sake of my nation, its people and the future of my country,” said al-Nujaifi on Friday.

Under a de facto agreement, the Speaker is a Sunni Arab, the Prime Minister a Shiite Arab and the President a Kurd.

Maliki Dismisses 2 Top Commanders

Prime Minister Maliki has dismissed Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan, commander of Iraq’s ground forces, and Lieutenant Mohsen al-Kaabi, the chief of the federal police, signing papers for their retirement.

Ghaidan was among military commanders accused of abandoning troops when insurgents moved into Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, on June 10.

Iranian Pilot Killed in Fighting

State news agency IRNA reports that an Iranian pilot has been killed in fighting in Iraq.

The article did not indicate whether the pilot, Colonel Shoja’at Alamdari, died in flight or on the ground. It said only that he was
“defending” Shia shrines in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad.

Iranian troops, including members of the elite Qods Forces, entered Iraq three weeks ago to help defend Samarra as insurgents advanced after the capture of Mosul and Tikrit.

Fars News published photos of the pilot’s funeral service on Friday in his Fars Province in southern Iran.

(Cross-posted from Iran Daily)

46 Indian Nurses Freed by Insurgents, Return Home

Forty-six Indian nurses have been freed by insurgents after more than three weeks.

The nurses, taken from a hospital in Tikrit after insurgents captured the city on June 11, returned to Kochi in western India on Saturday afternoon.

The plane also brought back 100 other Indians who were trapped in Iraq.