Armed fighters in Iraq have made large territorial gains recently. The Iraqi army, though, says it is mounting a counteroffensive to regain those areas now controlled by the group Islamic State.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered an amnesty to tribesmen who have fought against the government, but excluded anyone who had "killed and shed blood."

Maliki says he hopes to overcome the challenges facing the formation of a new government. He made his statement a day after the new parliament's first session ended with no agreement on the appointment of top government posts. This, despite international calls for a united front.

And it is precisely this sort of political bickering that observers say has allowed the Sunni armed rebellion to gain traction.

Can those same politicians convince armed groups to take part in the political process? Are the men with the guns even interested? Or will the fighting in Iraq simply kill the political process?

Presenter: Mike Hanna


Christopher Hill, former US ambassador to Iraq.

Saad Al-Muttalibi, former political adviser to the Iraqi government.

Wadah Khanfar, president of the Al Sharq Forum.

Source: Al Jazeera