WASHINGTON (AP) — An influential Democratic senator threatened Thursday to block U.S. arms sales to Iraq if Congress doesn't get an assessment of Iraqi forces and assurances the weapons won't fall into the hands of extremist militants.
Kurdish politician Fuad Masum became Iraq's new president Thursday, in a step towards forming a government that visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon said must be inclusive for the country to survive. A June onslaught on Sunni Arab areas north and west of Baghdad led by the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group has brought Iraq to the brink of breakup, with the government struggling to assert any authority beyond its Shiite power base. Parliament elected Masum, who served as the first prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region more than two decades ago, by an overwhelming majority of 211 votes to 17. Under an unofficial power-sharing deal, Iraq's Kurds traditionally get the post of president.
Quiet and bookish, Iraq's president-elect Fuad Masum is different from jocular incumbent Jalal Talabani, but sharp political skills forged in the long battle for Kurdish self-determination are common to both. Masum, an ethnic Kurd, fought a rebel war alongside childhood friend Talabani for a separate Kurdish homeland, and in 1992 became the first prime minister of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region. Something of a political pioneer, Masum was also the speaker of the first Iraqi parliament to be formed after the US-led invasion of 2003. Yet diminutive and bespectacled Masum is not an obvious fighter or risk-taker.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country's new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Thursday he had no knowledge that Sen. John Walsh had plagiarized his master's thesis when he appointed the former lieutenant governor to the Senate in February, and that he continues to support the Democrat's candidacy in 2014.
The United Nations said on Thursday that jihadists in Iraq have ordered all women between the ages of 11 and 46 to undergo female genital mutilation, but experts quickly cast doubt on the claim. The UN's second most senior official in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, told reporters in Geneva via videoconference: "It is a fatwa (or religious edict) from ISIS, we learnt about it this morning. The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), took over large swathes of the country last month and has begun imposing its extreme Salafist interpretation of Islam.
These are glum times for Democrats in their struggle to retain control of the Senate. The race to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa has gone from “leaning Democratic” to a “toss-up,” as Republican State Senator Joni Ernst continues to surge in popularity. Meanwhile, recently appointed Democratic Sen. John Walsh of Montana has been hit with plagiarism charges that may cost his party a seat that had been held by Democrat Max Baucus for more than three decades.
Two suicide car bombs exploded seconds and a few hundred metres (yards) apart in a busy area of central Baghdad Thursday, killing at least 13 people, police and medical sources said. The blasts went off in Karrada, a district packed with shops and restaurants, shortly after the time when people gather for the iftar meal breaking the dawn-to-dusk fast many Iraqi Muslims observe during the holy month of Ramadan. We were at the kitchen table for iftar," said Mohamed Ali al-Hakim, a 43-year-old electronics shop owner, who lives near the site of the blasts. The group took control of swathes of Iraq in a blistering onslaught that began last month.
The International Monetary Fund warned Thursday that geopolitical risks in Ukraine and the Middle East are looming over a global economy already hit by slowdowns in the US and China. After "negative surprises" from the United States and China, the global economy is now expected to grow only 3.4 percent this year, the IMF said, lowering its April estimate of 3.7 percent. In 2013, the world economy grew 3.2 percent. The downgraded 2014 growth outlook reflects a "weak first quarter, particularly in the United States, and a less optimistic outlook for several emerging markets," the IMF said in an update of its semiannual World Economic Outlook (WEO).
Congratulations to Kurdish candidate and veteran politician Fuad Massoum who has just been voted in as Iraq's president. "Everyone likes him,” Abbas al-Bayati, a Shiite lawmaker, told The New York Times. “He is a moderate man and was agreed to by everyone,” adding that the 76-year-old is “a man who refuses divisions, and this is what we look for in the Iraqi president.” The British Ambassador to Iraq Simon Collis and Kurdistan's High Representative to the United Kingdom Bayan Sami Rahman both praised the decision on Twitter Thursday. Massoum was born in the Kurdish capital of Irbil in 1938 and, along with current Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, founded the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in 1975.
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline faces new allegations of corruption, this time in Syria, where the drugmaker and its distributor have been accused of paying bribes to secure business, according to a whistleblower's email reviewed by Reuters. The allegations relate to its former consumer healthcare operations in Syria, which were closed down in 2012 due to the worsening civil war in the country. GSK has been rocked by corruption allegations since last July, when Chinese authorities accused it of funneling up to 3 billion yuan ($480 million) to doctors and officials to encourage them to use its medicines. Syria is the sixth country to be added to the list.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic extremist militants blew up a revered Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah in Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, on Thursday, residents of the city said.
The United States on Thursday threw its weight behind the newly elected president of Iraq, Fuad Masum, and urged him to form a "cohesive government" to help fight Islamic militants. "By taking this crucial step, the Council of Representatives has demonstrated its commitment to uniting the country according to the constitution," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, offering Washington's congratulations on Masum's election. "Iraq’s leaders now must take the next step in their democratic process by choosing a prime minister and forming a government," she said in a statement as Iraq seeks to quell an offensive by militants who have seized a swathe of territory in the north of the country.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside, Palestinian officials said, as Israel pressed forward with its 17-day war against the territory's Hamas rulers.
Norway is stepping up security amid intelligence reports of a possible imminent "terrorist attack" by militants who have fought in Syria, the country's security officials said Thursday. The move comes as concerns mount in Europe about the growing threat posed by jihadists returning from war-torn Syria. "We recently received information that a group of extremists from Syria may be planning a terrorist attack in Norway," said Benedicte Bjoernland, the chief of PST, the country's domestic intelligence service.
Hundreds of people demonstrated Thursday in Arbil, capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, to condemn the forced displacement of Iraqi Christians and call for their protection. Muslims, Christians, displaced people and political parties took part in the protest outside UN offices in Arbil, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of Baghdad. "We condemn the targeting of Christians in Mosul," read one banner. Thousands of Christians and other minorities have fled the northern city of Mosul and other areas after a jihadist onslaught led by Islamic State insurgents swept swathes of Iraq's north and west last month.
By Isabel Coles KABERLI Iraq (Reuters) - A new map is being drawn across the plains of northern Iraq as Sunni militants of the Islamic State purge the rural landscape of religious and ethnic minorities that have co-existed for hundreds of years. More than half a million people have been displaced across Iraq since June, when the north's biggest city, Mosul, fell to Sunni insurgents who have harried Shi'ite Turkmen and Shabaks, Yezidis and Christians. Now the Islamic State's cleansing campaign has rid farmland and villages in the surrounding Nineveh province and beyond of longtime minority inhabitants, leaving the country's north segregated along clear sectarian and ethnic lines.
The United Nations, expressing deep concern, said on Thursday that militant group Islamic State had ordered all girls and women in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation. One document posted on Twitter suggested it may be a year old and have been issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, the group's previous name. Such a "fatwa" issued by the Sunni Muslim fighters would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Jacqueline Badcock told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil. There was no immediate comment from Islamic State which has led an offensive through northern and western Iraq.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician as the nation's new president on Thursday, hours after an attack on a prison convoy killed dozens of people, brutally underscoring the challenges faced by the country's leaders as they struggle to form a new government.
Iraq's parliament elected senior Kurdish lawmaker Fouad Masoum as president on Thursday, a long-awaited step in creating a new government capable of countering a Sunni Muslim insurgency. Iraq's politicians have been in deadlock over forming a new government since an election in April. Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has ruled since the election in a caretaker capacity, defying demands from the Sunnis and Kurds that he step aside for a less divisive figure. Critics say Maliki is a polarising figure who has stirred up sectarian tensions that have worsened since Sunni insurgents swept through north and west Iraq last month, seizing large swathes of territory and declaring a "caliphate".
ISIS, the militant group wreaking havoc across Iraq and Syria, has ordered all women and girls in and around Iraq's northern city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation, according to a United Nations report. Update: The report's claim is disputed, as experts have expressed skepticism on the edict from the Islamic State the UN found. Doesn’t fit IS model. — Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) July 24, 2014 If the document is indeed a hoax, then the UN isn't the only one fooled. In the document, the Sunni Muslim fighters say they're issuing a "fatwa" that could affect about 4 million women and girls, according to U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Jacqueline Badcock, who told reporters:
BEIRUT (AP) — Fighters from the extremist Islamic State group on Thursday overran part of an army base in northern Syria, which has been under the militants' siege for months, in ferocious battles that killed or wounded dozens on both sides, activists said.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Kurdish politician Fouad Massoum was named Iraq's new president on Thursday hours after an attack on a prison convoy killed dozens of people, brutally underscoring the challenges faced by the country's leaders as they struggle to form a new government.