Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he will step down from the leadership of Iraq.
The president of Iraq recently tapped Haider al-Abadi, a member of al-Maliki’s Dawa party, to form a new Iraqi government as Sunni militants calling themselves the Islamic State take over vast sections of the country and terrorize Iraqi civilians. al-Maliki reportedly tried to hold on to his prime minister position, but his attempt at self-preservation proved futile.
al-Maliki, a former Shiite dissident during Saddam Hussein’s regime, served two four-year terms, but has been roundly criticized for running a sectarian government that bows to the whims of the Shiite regime in Iran and leaves Sunnis in the western regions bordering Syria unprotected by Islamists seeking to build an Islamic Caliphate state.
“I step down for Haider Abadi without expecting (a position) from him,” al-Maliki said at a Dawa Party meeting Thursday.
al-Maliki signed Saddam Hussein’s death warrant in 2006, three years after President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But optimism about al-Maliki’s presidency was short-lived. In 2011, President Obama decided to withdraw all troops from Iraq without locking down a status of forces agreement to keep some forces in the country to keep stability. Obama has claimed that al-Maliki refused to sign the agreement.