Iraq’s parliament has failed to approve Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi’s candidates for the sensitive posts of defence and interior ministers, state television has reported.
The men – Riad al-Ghareeb nominated for the post of interior minister and Jaber al-Jabberi as defence minister – did not win the needed majority vote, state television said.
Lawmakers convened on Tuesday as US jets carried out an air strike near Baghdad for the first time since launching an aerial campaign in early August, and French warplanes flying from the United Arab Emirates began reconnaissance missions over Iraq.
Abbadi put forward Sunni lawmaker Jabberi as his candidate for defence minister, and Shia lawmaker Ghareeb as his pick for interior minister.
Parliament, which could confirm the nominees with a simple majority, voted 118-117 against Ghareeb, and 131-108 against Jabberi.
I think that the posts of defence and interior minister should be kept away from sectarian power sharing. Iraq's problems in Iraq can be solved only by bringing independent and efficient people to fill ministerial posts
“The failure of the parliament to agree on the candidates to fill the posts of interior and defence ministers shows clearly that the gap among and inside political groups are still huge and that each bloc is pursuing its own ambitions,” said lawmaker Mutashar al-Samarie.
“I think that the posts of defence and interior minister should be kept away from sectarian power sharing. Iraq’s problems can be solved only by bringing independent and efficient people to fill ministerial posts.”
Ahead of the vote, two lawmakers, Hussein al-Maliki and Mohammed Saadoun, told The Associated Press that the selection of Ghareeb met some contention, mostly from the Shia Badr Brigade.
Parliament adjourned until Thursday.
The US and other countries have been pushing for a more representative government that will ease anger among Sunnis, who felt marginalised by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s administration, helping fuel the dramatic sweep by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) over much of northern and western Iraq since June.
The US began conducting air strikes on August 8, providing aerial support to struggling Iraqi and Kurdish forces battling the Sunni fighters.
US Central Command said it conducted a strike on Monday in support of Iraqi forces southwest of Baghdad.
On Tuesday, the US military’s top officer raised the possibility that American troops serving as advisers to Iraqi forces
eventually could be sent on combat missions against ISIL fighters if it became necessary.
“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president,” General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.