Iraq parliament delays session until August

Postponement announced despite pressure to form quickly new government that can confront Sunni-led rebellion’s advance.

Iraq’s newly elected parliament has postponed its next session until mid-August, according to state television, amid political deadlock over choosing a new prime minister.

Parliament met last Tuesday for the first time since its election in April and had planned to meet again this Tuesday.

Pressure is running high to quickly form a new government that can confront a Sunni-led rebellion that has overrun parts of western and northern Iraq.

The parliament said in a statement on Monday that following “discussions with the heads of the blocs and concerned parties”, it was decided that “the next session will be held instead on August 12”.

It expressed hope that “another chance will be available for more dialogue and discussions to arrange that meeting”.

Under an informal system that took root after the 2003 US-led invasion that deposed Saddam Hussein, the prime minister’s job goes to a Shia, the president’s post to a Kurd and the speaker of parliament’s chair to a Sunni.

The main point of contention right now is the post of prime minister, which holds most of the power in Iraq.

Last week’s session, the first since a May election, broke up when Sunnis and Kurds walked out after Shias failed to name a prime minister to replace Nouri al-Maliki.

Within hours of the announcement of the parliament session’s postponement, a senior Iraqi general was killed in fighting with Sunni rebels near Baghdad on Monday. 

Major General Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army’s sixth division responsible for defending part of Baghdad, was killed just 16 km northwest of the capital.

There was also violence in Baghdad’s Shia neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah. A suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a checkpoint, killing five policemen and three civilians, according to a police official.

The official said 16 people were wounded besides the fatalities. A medic confirmed to Associated Press news agency the casualty figures.

Barrel-bombing proof

Iraq’s military has been involved in a difficult campaign since mid-June against the Sunni-led rebellion in the north and the west led by the Islamic State group.

The rebels had established footholds in Fallujah and several other Iraqi cities months before a June 11 offensive that saw them seize Mosul and Tikrit.

Now Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive footage showing the apparent aftermath of a barrel bombing in the rebel-held city of Fallujah.

The city’s hospital said at least nine people were injured in the air raids overnight on Sunday, including three children.

Iraqi security services were understood to have been targeting rebel strongholds in the neighbourhoods of Jolan, al-Andalus, al-Jubayl and al-Shuhadaa.

Barrel bombs are crudely constructed explosive device, made up of oil drums filled with scrap metal and high explosive.

They have been used extensively by government forces in neighbouring Syria, and have been banned under international conventions because of their indiscriminate nature.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Baghdad, said Iraqi military officials denied using the explosives.

“We do not use there weapons. We are a professional army,” Saad Maan, a military spokesman, said.

The Iraqi military was also accused of using the bombs in May, when local journalists told Al Jazeera the devices had been dropped on “mosques, houses and markets”.

The Iraqi government rejected the charge that but experts and witnesses challenged the denial. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies