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Live Blog: Iraq In Turmoil

Iraqis hold posters of outgoing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in support of him in Baghdad.


Final Summary

-- German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says EU foreign ministers gave their support for arms deliveries to Kurdish authorities during emergency talks in Brussels.

-- Iraq's leading Shi'ite religious figure, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, delivered a sermon in which he backed Prime Minister-designate Abadi. He said the transition was a rare chance to improve security and unity in Iraq.

-- U.S. President Barack Obama said the situation for Yazidis on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq has greatly improved since last week when he ordered air strikes to relieve pressure on the refugees from militants of the Islamic State.

-- The U.S. has praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for deciding not to stay in his post, calling it a "major step forward" in uniting Iraq. Maliki announced early today in a national television address that he was "withdrawing" his candidacy for the post of prime minister in favor of Abadi.

*NOTE: Times are stated according to local time in Iraq

15:41 15.8.2014

Is Abadi going to be any different from Maliki?

According to the Washington Post:

Seen as less ideological and more moderate than many leading Shiite politicians — including the man he would replace, divisive two-term Prime Minister Nouri Maliki — he is at the same time a cautious party man who has rarely broken with the Shiite mainstream on crucial issues such as "de-Baathification" and power sharing.

The Post interview several analysts who weigh in:

Kirk Sowell, a political analyst who edits the Inside Iraqi Politics newsletter and is based in Jordan:

"Neither he nor his coalition are auspicious in terms of expecting a significant change. There were people around Maliki who were flamethrowers; [Abadi is] not a flamethrower. But at the same time, Abadi has never been known as someone who's pushing reforms."

David Pollock, a Middle East expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

"There are some reasons to think he is not beholden to or enamored with Iran as Maliki has been."

Hayder al-Khoei, an Iraq expert at Chatham House, a British-based think tank.:

"He's going to face every single challenge that Maliki faced. That has nothing to do with personalities. There are systematic failures having to do with governance, nepotism, corruption that are not going to go away overnight."

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14:52 15.8.2014

Kurdish solidarity

This video footage shows peshmerga forces thanking the PKK for coming to their rescue, and saying that without them they would have been slaughtered.

14:37 15.8.2014

Lending help

One group helping the Kurdish peshmerga forces fight IS militants is the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG.

Mutlu Civiroglu, an expert on Kurdish affairs, wrote a story for Vice News about how the YPG is helping their compatriots in Iraq, which have recently suffered defeats to the IS:

Though originally linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most powerful Kurdish political party in Syria, the YPG is now seen as the armed force of all of Syrian Kurdistan. The PYD is also affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker's Party, or PKK.

The YPG has previously not really been active in the battle against the IS because they were prevented from entering by the dominant Iraqi Kurdish party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Following the recent losses by its armed forces, the peshmerga, however, the YPG and other PKK forces have entered Iraq to fill the vacuum and fight the IS.

And they have proven to be pretty damn good at it. As of now, there are currently hundreds of YPG fighters in Rabia, Sinjar, and Kirkuk actively fighting against the Islamic State on several fronts in Iraq.

You can read the full story here.

14:28 15.8.2014

More, better arms needed

Masrour Barzain, the intelligence and security chief of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) tells the BBC that the arms they have received from the West are "nothing as effective as we are asking for."

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