Al-Maliki unwavering in remaining as Iraqi PM

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Wednesday said he won’t give up his leadership position until a federal court decides whether Iraq’s president violated the constitution.

"Holding on [to the premiership] is an ethical and patriotic duty to defend the rights of voters," al-Maliki said in his weekly televised address, according to The Associated Press. "The insistence on this until the end is to protect the state." 

Al-Maliki has accused President Fuad Masum of carrying out a coup by nominating someone from al-Maliki’s own party to replace him as prime minister. 

"Why do we insist that this government continue and stay as is until a decision by the federal court is issued?" al-Maliki said. "It is a constitutional violation — a conspiracy planned from the inside or from out." 

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Al-Maliki’s decision on Sunday to deploy special forces loyal to him around Baghdad was seen as provocative, though the State Department on Monday rejected the idea that it would amount to a coup. 

On Monday, Masum nominated Haider al-Abadi to be Iraq’s new prime minister. President Obama and Vice President Biden both placed congratulatory phone calls to al-Abadi, who has 30 days to present a new government for approval. 

Al-Maliki’s inflexibility could prove to be problematic for both Iraqi politics and the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts. The United States has sent a strong signal to Iraq that al-Maliki needs to go in order for Iraq to form a united government against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Meanwhile, 130 new U.S. troops arrived in Erbil, Iraq, on Tuesday to evaluate the humanitarian crisis on Mt. Sinjar where the Yazidi community is stranded after fleeing ISIS.