Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is pushing to remain in power for a third term stoking political tensions in Iraq. Maliki has accused the country's new president, Fouad Massoum, of staging a "coup against the constitution and the political process" for refusing to designate him prime minister. On Monday, Massoum asked Deputy Speaker Haider al-Abadi to form a government. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States supports Massoum and warned Maliki not to interfere with the constitutional process and the formation of a new government. However, an Iraqi court ruled that Maliki's State of Law coalition is the largest bloc in parliament and should be given the first opportunity to form a new government. Meanwhile, the United States has begun to directly provide arms to the Kurdish pesh merga forces who are battling Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq. The U.S. administration had previously sold weapons only to the Iraqi government in Baghdad. U.S. airstrikes over the weekend have helped the pesh merga to retake the towns of Gwer and Mahmour.
- Israeli and Palestinian delegates resumed indirect negotiations Monday after agreeing to a new 72-hour cease-fire after exchanging attacks over the weekend.
- Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan received about 52 percent of the vote winning Turkey's first direct presidential election, and is expected to increase powers for what had been a largely ceremonial post.
- Egypt has denied entry to two Human Rights Watch staff members who were planning to release a report on the mass killings of protesters by security forces in 2013.
- An Iranian passenger airplane crashed Sunday morning killing 39 people.
Arguments and Analysis
'Iraq's Rot Starts at the Top' (Zaid Al-Ali, The New York Times)
"Sadly, none of the men being considered as possible replacements for Mr. Maliki would necessarily do any better than he has. Their records, from their time in exile in the 1990s, are dubious at best. Ibrahim al-Jafari, a front-runner, did nothing to curb militia activity when he was prime minister in 2005-6, and refused to impose a curfew that might have prevented the bloody civil war that erupted. Ahmad Chalabi's name is frequently floated, but his family banking business was a failure, his opposition group in exile was accused of mismanaging American funds, he has failed to win a single seat in Parliament in his own right in each of Iraq's elections, and he has no executive experience of note. A third candidate, Tariq Najm, is a virtual unknown - as Mr. Maliki was when he was picked in 2006. The main advantage of Adel Abdul Mahdi, the final candidate, is that he alone probably realizes that he is not capable of governing the country on his own and would therefore rely on assistance from outside his immediate circle. That may be reason enough for him to occupy the position."
'Isis, the jihadists who turned the tables' (Hassan Hassan, The Guardian)
"Yet these advances appear to be only the tip of the iceberg. Away from the publicised gains, Isis is quietly making progress on other fronts. Perhaps the most worrying is the fact that armed groups backed by the US have been co-opted by Isis.
After its sweeping military success in Iraq in June, Isis moved to take over the strategic province in Deir Ezzor, where the rebels controlled lucrative oil and gas resources. To the surprise of many, the group quickly controlled towns and villages that were home to some of the group's most powerful adversaries, including Jabhat al-Nusra and locally rooted tribal militias."
'Airstrikes in Iraq, But Why Not Syria' (Frederic C. Hof, Atlantic Council)
"For this administration, however, legal mandate is important. Whether its importance reflects a disciplined adherence to constitutional and international law or a tactic employed to justify some actions while avoiding others is, perhaps, debatable. What is clear, however, is that a 'mandate' emanating from a government headed by a person-Nouri al-Maliki-whose gross incompetence and sectarianism have brought Iraq back to ruin seems to facilitate doing something. On the other hand, the abysmal combination of Russian and Chinese vetoes in the United Nations Security Council and the continued recognition by Washington of Bashar al-Assad as the President of the Syrian Arab Republic seem to provide the requisite excuse for doing next to nothing."
-- Mary Casey
AMER AL-SAEDI/AFP/Getty Images