UPDATE 9:27 p.m.: WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — The United States said it “fully supports” Iraq’s new president, just hours after embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused him of violating the constitution.
The U.S. rejects any effort to use coercion or manipulation in the process of choosing a new Iraqi leader, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, adding that the U.S. supports “building a national consensus and governing in an inclusive manner.”
Al-Maliki accused Fouad Massoum, who was named president last month, of neglecting to name a prime minister from the country’s largest parliamentary faction by Sunday’s deadline.
UPDATE 8:47 p.m.: Mina Al-Oraibi, an Iraqi journalist in London, notes that “street fighting is a real concern in Baghdad tonight.”
Original story below
Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is reportedly clinging to power, refusing to drop his bid for a third term as special forces loyal to him are said to have fanned out across Baghdad Sunday while a Sunni insurgency rages, Reuters reported.
There are reports that a coup is imminent and, in fact, is already underway. Liz Sly, the Washington Post Beirut bureau chief who covers Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, notes that Baghdad is under a full-fledged coup, citing Iraqi analyst Ibrahim al-Somaidai:
More from Reuters:
Maliki, seen as an authoritarian and sectarian leader, has defied calls by Sunnis, Kurds, some fellow Shi’ites and regional power broker Iran to step aside for a less polarizing figure who can unite Iraqis against Islamic State militants.
Reuters added that the soldiers were deployed in strategic areas of Baghdad following a televised speech in which Maliki indicated he wouldn’t bend to pressure to drop his bid for a third term. The news agency added that several police sources indicated the forces took positions at key entrances to the city.
Maliki added in his speech that he’ll file a legal complaint against the country’s new president for committing “a clear constitutional violation.” He accused Fouad Massoum of neglecting to name a prime minister from the country’s largest parliamentary bloc by Sunday’s deadline, adding that Massoum has violated the constitution “for the sake of political goals.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This story has been updated.