Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has rejected U.S. and other foreign calls for a more inclusive government as a “coup.” Maliki spoke earlier today following the departure of Secretary of State John Kerry, who had visited Baghdad and the northern Kurdish region to press for a reconciliation agreement between Iraqi leaders. The Obama administration has apparently conditioned U.S. strikes against Sunni militants on a more inclusive central Iraqi government. But Maliki issued what appeared to be a strong rebuke.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: “It is no secret to all Iraqis, the dangerous goals behind the call for the formation of a national salvation government, as they call it. It is simply an attempt by those who rebel against the constitution to end the young democratic process and confiscate the opinions of the voters and circumvent the constitutional merits. The call for the formation of a national salvation government is a coup against the constitution and the political process.”
Comments by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki come as about 90 of the 300 U.S. Special Forces deployed to Iraq as “military advisers” have now arrived. The Pentagon says U.S. aircraft are flying up to 35 surveillance flights over Iraq daily. Meanwhile, the Syrian government waded into the Iraq crisis on Tuesday when it bombed Sunni militants near the Iraq-Syria border. The Syrian strike comes just two days after Israel bombed targets inside Syria. Militants with ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, meanwhile, have launched new attacks, hitting one of Iraq’s largest air bases near the town of Yathrib. Fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS is also continuing for control of the oil refinery in Baiji.
Speaking during his visit to the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, Secretary of State John Kerry urged Kurdish leaders to remain a part of Iraq instead of forming an independent state.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “As everybody knows, this is a very critical time for Iraq as a whole, and the government formation challenge is the central challenge that we face. In recent days, the security cooperation between the forces here in the Kurdish area has been really critical to helping to draw a line with respect to ISIL and also to provide some support to the Iraqi security forces.”
Kerry is in Brussels today for talks with NATO allies on the Iraq crisis.
Primaries were held Tuesday night in seven states. On the Republican side, Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi narrowly defeated tea party challenger Chris McDaniel in a runoff capping a heated race. The difference maker may have been the state’s African-American Democrats. Ahead of the runoff, Cochran urged black voters to vote in the primary in order to prevent a victory for McDaniel and his neo-Confederate views. While Cochran celebrated his victory Tuesday night, McDaniel refused to concede. Four of McDaniel’s supporters were arrested last month for a plot to break into a retirement home and take pictures of Cochran’s bedridden wife. The race was seen as a key test of establishment Republicans trying to fend off tea party challengers following the defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor earlier this month.
In Democrats’ most closely watched race, the 23-term Rep. Charles Rangel of New York has declared victory over State Senator Adriano Espaillat in a rematch of their 2012 primary. The 84-year-old Rangel has served in Congress for 43 years. Espaillat has yet to concede.
A federal appeals court has ruled the “no-fly” list barring passengers from flying to or within the United States is unconstitutional. On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court in Oregon found the “no-fly” list violates the Fifth Amendment right to due process. The ruling came in the case of 13 plaintiffs barred from flying without notice or explanation. In some cases, U.S. citizens have been stranded abroad. The government has been ordered to inform the plaintiffs why they are on the list and to create a new process for them to challenge their placement on it. Up to 20,000 people are said to be included. In a statement, the ACLU said: “We hope this serves as a wake-up call for the government to fix its broken watchlist system, which has swept up so many innocent people.”
The Obama administration has warned thousands of undocumented children are at risk of deportation following a wave of migration from Central America. More than 47,000 unaccompanied children have been caught at the U.S. border since October fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. On Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told lawmakers the United States is preparing additional detention centers to hold undocumented immigrants.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson: “We’re creating additional detention space for adults who bring their children, and I’m considering — I want to consider every option for stemming this tide, sir. We’re talking about large numbers of children, without their parents, who have arrived at our border hungry, thirsty, exhausted, scared and vulnerable. How we treat the children, in particular, is a reflection of our laws and our values.”
Most of the children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and many have come on their own.
Attorneys for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange have asked the Swedish government to withdraw a warrant that has kept him confined in Ecuador’s London Embassy for two years. Assange has been holed up in a small embassy office since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning on allegations of sexual assault. Assange has voiced fears he would ultimately be sent for prosecution in the United States if he were to return to Sweden. Assange’s attorneys say the warrant should be lifted because it can’t be enforced while Assange is in the embassy and Swedish prosecutors refuse to question him in London. Ecuador recently said talks with Britain over Assange’s fate were at an impasse, with Britain refusing to grant Assange safe passage to Quito. Although Assange faces a warrant for questioning on the sexual assault allegations, he has not been formally charged.
Dozens of Palestinian prisoners have ended a hunger strike after winning concessions from Israel. Around 120 prisoners have refused meals since late April to protest their detention without charge and force-feedings.
Boko Haram militants have reportedly kidnapped around 90 more people in Nigeria. Witnesses in Borno state say the victims, including 60 girls and women, were seized over the weekend. The attacks come less than three months after the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls that sparked an international outcry.
A 16-year-old transgender girl of color has been released from an adult women’s prison in Connecticut after being held there for two months without any criminal charges. The teenager, known as “Jane Doe,” was jailed in April and held in solitary confinement after the Connecticut Department of Children and Families told a judge they could not safely care for her, citing her alleged history of violent behavior. Jane Doe had endured years of abuse as a child while under state supervision, at the hands of both relatives and DCF staff. Following a public outcry over her case, state officials announced Tuesday Jane Doe has been moved to a juvenile psychiatric facility. In a statement, the group Justice for Jane celebrated her transfer, saying: “Our next steps are to get Jane moved from Middletown and ultimately into a loving family.”