Middle East

Iraq security forces must not intervene in politics: Ban

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (C) addresses an informal meeting of the 193-member U.N. REUTERS/Mike Segar

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday warned that Iraqi security forces must not intervene in a political crisis sparked by the appointment of a new prime minister.

"It is imperative that the security forces refrain from intervening in the political process," Ban told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

The UN chief, along with the United States and regional powerbroker Iran, have welcomed the appointment of Haidar al-Abadi as the new prime minister and urged him to form a broad-based government.

Abadi is to replace Nuri al-Maliki, who was sidelined amid an offensive by jihadist fighters who now control vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.

Maliki earlier called on the armed forces to stay out of politics in remarks seen as a signal that he would not seek to tap into support from the military to cling to power.

The UN chief noted that the gains made by Islamic State (IS) fighters were in part rooted in the "lack of inclusiveness" of the Shiite-dominated Maliki government, which helped spur the jihadists.

"The people of Iraq -- all Iraqi people -- need security. Yet the poison of hatred and brutality is spreading," Ban said.

The UN chief said he was "profoundly dismayed" by the "barbaric acts" being carried out by Islamic State fighters, including summary executions, boys recruited to fight and girls abducted or trafficked as sex slaves.

He called on world governments to step up a relief effort to rescue thousands of Yazidis, a religious minority targeted by the jihadists, who have fled to Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

The UN Security Council is working on a draft resolution aimed at choking off the flow of foreign fighters and financial support to jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

The measure, which is expected to come up for a vote later this week, would threaten sanctions on groups and individuals who support Islamic State and the Al-Nusrah Front in Syria.





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