Iraq crisis: Sunni and Shia tribal and clerical leaders agree to back new PM

Iraq has been in deadlock since extremist Sunni fighters advanced across the country in June

Both Sunni and Shia tribal and clerical leaders have given their conditional backing to Iraq’s new Prime Minister, in a move that could end political deadlock and ultimately contain an offensive by extremist Sunni Islamic State (IS) militants.

Newly designated Shia Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must now attempt to pacify the vast desert province of Anbar bordering Syria, which is in large parts controlled by IS fighters. His predecessor who stepped down yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki, was accused of alienating the country’s Sunni minority, which in turn tempted some in the province to join the IS revolt.

Taha Mohammed al-Hamdoon, spokesman for the tribal and clerical leaders, told reporters that Sunni representatives in Anbar and other provinces had drawn up a list of demands which would be delivered through Sunni politicians to Abadi.

On Friday, Iraq's most influential Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said Abadi’s appointment offered a rare opportunity to resolve Iraq’s crisis, which has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing for their lives.

 

Read more: President Barack Obama says US airstrikes in Iraq
Britain is prepared to arm Kurdish fighters to push back Isis

In comments relayed by his spokesman after weekly Friday prayers in the Shia holy city of Kerbala, the octogenarian went on to warn the country’s feuding politicians to fulfil their “historic responsibility” by cooperating with Abadi as he attempts to form a new government and mend divisions between the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish.

Meanwhile, Ali Hatem Suleiman, one of the most influential tribal leaders in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, said he would work with Shia Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, on the grounds that a new government would respect the rights of the Sunni Muslims.

He added the decision to take up arms against the Islamic State fighters – who formerly called themselves Isis – would come later.  In 2009, he and others joined US and Shia-led government forces to thwart an al-Qa'ida insurgency in Iraq between 2006 and 2009.

The appointment of Abadi has drawn widespread support within Iraq but also from the United States and Iran, the regional Shia power.

In Brussels on Friday, EU foreign ministers called on al-Abadi to urgently form a government that will be "inclusive and able to address the needs and legitimate aspirations of all the Iraqi citizens." 

EU ministers pledged to step up efforts to help those fleeing advancing Islamic State militants, with several nations announcing they will fly dozens of tons of aid to northern Iraq over the coming days.

France has pledged to ship weapons to the Kurds, while tee UK is delivering ammunition and military supplies obtained from eastern European nations and is considering sending more weaponry. Germany, the Netherlands and others said they would also consider requests to arm the Kurds.

Additional reporting by AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?