Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has set aside tensions with independence-minded Kurds to help them battle Sunni militants he regards as terrorists. Maliki on Monday reportedly ordered his air force to back Kurdish forces, who are trying to repel Islamic State fighters who've taken control of several strategic oil fields in the north. State television quoted a Maliki spokesman announcing the move, Reuters reported.
Maliki, who remains in office after an inconclusive election in April, has been accused of stoking tensions with the Sunnis by pursuing a sectarian agenda. He has also butted heads with the Kurds, who say he hasn’t done enough to keep terrorists out of their semi-autonomous region, known as Kurdistan. But as the Islamic State makes inroads in a campaign to create a Muslim caliphate, Maliki has thrown more government weight behind the Kurds.
— Jon Schuppe with Reuters
First published August 4 2014, 10:04 AM