The U.N. urged Iraq’s leaders Saturday to overcome their deep divisions and move quickly to form a new government that can unite the country and confront a surging militant threat, warning that failure to do so “risks plunging the country into chaos.”
The Sunni insurgent blitz over the past month has driven Iraq into its deepest crisis since the last American troops left in 2011, pushing bloodshed to levels unseen since the height of the Iraq war, sending Sunni-Shiite tensions soaring and raising the specter of a nation cleaved in three along ethnic and sectarian lines.
Iraq’s new parliament is scheduled today to hold its second session amid hopes that lawmakers can quickly decide on a new prime minister, president and speaker of parliament — the first steps toward forming a new government. It failed to make any progress in its first session, and postponed its second session until today.
U.N special envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, called on lawmakers to attend the meeting and forge an agreement on new leaders.
In Baghdad, gunmen in four-wheel drive vehicles raided two buildings in a housing complex in the Zayounah neighborhood late Saturday, killing at least 33 people, including 29 women, police said. They say at least 18 people were wounded.