‘Iraq cannot stay together as it was’ – Kurdish PM
“Due to the recent attacks of militants by mortars, the refinery administration decided to evacuate foreign workers for their safety and also to completely shut down production units to avoid extensive damage that could result," said a refinery. (Reuters, 17 June)
Meanwhile, the insurgents closed in on Baquba and there were reports of fierce fighting with Iraqi security forces and Shia militias defending the city. Baquba is 37 miles northeast of Baghdad and the provincial capital of Diyala. The ISIL insurgents already have access to Baghdad from Anbar to the west and Nineveh and Salahuddin to the north. The battle for Baquba represents the closest that fighting has come to Baghdad.
The U.S. government meanwhile is engaged “in a strenuous effort to persuade Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to move within a matter of days toward a more inclusive power-sharing arrangement,” the Washington Post reported today. Maliki in his past eight years has failed to form a unity government in Iraq, and his sectarian policies are seen as contributing to the growth of the current Sunni militant movement in the country.
Saudi Arabia called Monday for the formation of a “consensus” government to assume powers and responsibilities” in Iraq, presumably without Maliki. (The Washington Post, 17 June)
In Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Kurdish Autonomous Government who had returned from a visit to Tehran, told the BBC that it is “almost impossible” for Iraq to return to its pre-ISIS offensive days. The various factions - Iraqi Sunni and Shia as well as Kurdish - needed to “sit down and find a way to live together,” but the country cannot stay together as it was. (BBC/The Washington Post, 17 June)
File photo: Refinery at Baiji, Iraq’s largest, shut down on Monday after coming under attack by ISIL insurgents. (photo: Iraq Business News)