US backs Iraq president amid infighting, aids Ezidis

By Michael Hernandez, Monday, August 11, 2014

US sends aid to stranded Ezidis besieged by militants, while Iraq's Prime Minister accuses Iraqi President of breaching the constitution

US sends aid to stranded Ezidis besieged by militants, while Iraq's Prime Minister accuses Iraqi President of breaching the constitution

WASHINGTON – Iraq's newly-appointed, and already embattled, President Fuad Masum received the backing of the U.S. on Sunday night after rivals accused him of trying to jeopardize the appointment of the country's next prime minister. 

“The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and is in touch with Iraqi leaders,” Marie Harf, the deputy State Department spokeswoman said in a statement released to the press. “The United States fully supports President Fuad Masum in his role as guarantor of the Iraqi Constitution.” 

Speaking on state television late Sunday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Masum, who was appointed in July, of violating Iraq’s constitution by not appointing a new prime minister by Sunday's deadline. Maliki, who is seeking a third term, said he will be taking legal action against the president.

“We reject any effort to achieve outcomes through coercion or manipulation of the constitutional or judicial process,” said Harf. She added that the U.S. believes "a new and inclusive government is the best way to unify the country against ISIL, and to enlist the support of other countries in the region and international community."

– US delivers fourth batch of aid to stranded Ezidis

The U.S. also delivered its fourth batch of humanitarian aid to thousands of Iraqi civilians besieged by Islamic State militants atop Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. 

In total, 88 bundles were dropped by three aircraft on Sunday night, according to Central Command, the Pentagon's Middle East command. Fighter jets accompanied the aircraft as they delivered more than 22,000 ready-to-eat meals and 4,000 gallons of water to displaced Ezidis sheltering on the mountain. 

"The United States military will continue to work with the Department of State as well as international partners including the Government of Iraq, the United Nations, and non-government organizations to assess the need for additional humanitarian operations in Iraq going forward," Central Command said in a statement released to the press.

 U.S. aircraft have delivered more than 70,000 meals and 15,000 gallons of water to date, according to the military command. 

Armed groups linked to the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, captured the region's of Sinjar and Rabia in the northern Nineveh province last week after fierce clashes that forced thousands of Iraqis including Turkmen, Arabs and Ezidis to flee.

The violence in Iraq escalated in early June after a coalition of armed groups linked to the Islamic State took control of large swathes of the country's predominantly Sunni provinces.

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