New leadership signals progress in Iraq’s political struggle

(NBC NEWS) — New leadership in Iraq may help end the ongoing crisis there. The country’s prime minister is stepping aside — just days after saying he would not give up his seat. Nouri Al-Maliki seemed determined to hold onto power, but pressure from the U.S., Iran and even those within his own party ultimately lead to his resignation.

Maliki went on television to announce he would give up his post and his legal challenge against his successor, who stood next to him during his national address. Most Iraqi leaders feel a new government is critical to unite the country. President Barack Obama agrees.

“We are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against ISIL,” said Obama.

Yazidi citizens threatened by genocide are safely evacuating a mountain refuge with the help of Kurdish forces. The U.S. plans to continue airstrikes targeting terrorists on the ground northeast of Irbil. Three armed ISIS vehicles were destroyed Thursday.

“I think we are going to keep hitting them for a long period of time, unless and until the Peshmerga gets sufficiently trained to defend alone against these guys,” said Retired Col. Jack Jacobs.

The administration says U.S. military advisers will come home in a few days, even though ISIS remains a dangerous enemy.

“The threat that ISIL poses is not over. I mean, it’s not like we’re sitting here just breathing a sigh of relief now because everything is better — or things look to be better — on Mount Sinjar,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby.

The new prime minister has 30 days to establish the new government. Maliki will still control Iraq’s military until the transItion is complete.

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