In a move that he fervently resisted for weeks, Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki relented to international pressure and has agreed to step down, according to statements issued on Thursday, August 14.
Al-Maliki has also agreed to support the Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi, who will attempt to form a new goverment and to navigate governing the country according to Iraq’s constitutional timeline.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Maliki for taking the momentous step, thereby helping to ensure there will be a peaceful transition of power in Iraq.
The announcement came during a speech delivered on national television. He said his decision to back Al-Abadi, whom Iraqi President Fouad Massoum nominated earlier this week, was in keeping with his interest in helping to “safeguard the high interests of the country.”
Al-Abadi not only had the support of the Iraqi president, the U.S. government has been strongly urging Maliki to step down, and approved of the selection of Al-Abadi.
Al-Maliki has been the leader of Iraq since 2003, following the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein. He initially refused to step down and even threatened to file a court challenge. There was widespread fear that al-Maliki would attempt a military coup.
But Al-Maliki’s ultimate decision to leave office quietly and to support the designated transition clears the path for Iraq to benefit from increased U.S. aid.
IS (ISIS, ISIL) are massing forces 122 kilometers north of Baghdad near the town of Qara Tappa, according to ABC news, in what appears to be next step southward towards Iraq’s capital.
Al-Maliki stepping down is one less battle the Iraqi nation has to fight. ISIS is more than enough for any country to have to tame.