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Iraq Turmoil

Obama Hails 'Promising Step Forward' for Iraqi Government

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President Barack Obama said Monday that Iraq took a “promising step forward” by designating a new prime minister — yet another signal that the White House has lost faith in the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki. The Iraqi president designated Haider al-Abadi, the deputy speaker of parliament for the job. Al-Maliki rejected the selection, called it a coup and accused the United States of siding with forces who are violating the Iraqi constitution.

Obama, speaking on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, said that he and Vice President Joe Biden had spoken with al-Abadi and encouraged him to form an inclusive government. The power struggle in Baghdad is playing out as Iraqi security forces, helped by American airstrikes, battle the Islamist group known as ISIS, which has taken over swaths of Iraq and trapped tens of thousands of refugees on a mountain.

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“The only lasting solution is for Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government, one that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis and one that can unify the country's fight against ISIL,” Obama said, using a different acronym for ISIS.

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— Erin McClam