Iraq MPs fail again as militants gain ground

July 14, 2014 - 9:24:01 am

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s fractious parliament met yesterday and again failed to make any progress toward forming a new government, even as militants gained ground north of Baghdad in a renewed drive. World powers and Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, have been piling pressure on MPs to put aside their differences, with the country facing a major jihadist-led onslaught that has overrun chunks of five provinces.

But “no type of agreement was reached... between the various blocs” at Sunday’s session, which was adjourned to tomorrow, acting parliament speaker Mahdi Hafez announced.

The latest stalemate came despite the announcement late Saturday of an agreement among Sunni Arab lawmakers on a candidate for speaker, a post traditionally held by the minority group that must be filled before the government formation process can go ahead.

Parliament’s United for Change, a Sunni grouping, said Dr Salim Al Juburi had been selected, but it went on to pledge not to accept incumbent premier Nouri Al Maliki for a third term. Former parliament speaker Osama Al Nujaifi called yesterday for a vote on Juburi’s candidacy, but Hafez refused, saying not all blocs were in agreement, though there were more than enough MPs present to hold a vote.

Six dead as Hezbollah battles Syria rebels 

BAALBEK, Lebanon: Clashes between Syrian rebels and Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah on the Lebanese border have claimed at least six lives, sources said yesterday.

Three Hezbollah fighters and three Syrian rebels were killed, a Hezbollah source and a Lebanese security official said.

The fighting erupted on Saturday in an undemarcated area of the frontier between Qalamun in Syria and Arsal in Lebanon, the Lebanese official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The fighting intensified last evening with three Syrian fighters killed and 10 wounded,” he said, while the Hezbollah source, also declining to be named, said three of the Shia militants were killed.Agencies