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Another parliament delay deepens chaos in Iraq

| Monday, July 7, 2014, 5:45 p.m.

BAGHDAD — Iraq's parliament stalled on Monday for a second time, canceling its planned session on Tuesday to give the country's deeply divided political factions time to reach an agreement on an urgently needed government.

The delay further imperils Baghdad's ability to keep the oil-rich country intact a month as al-Qaida-inspired militants seized much of Iraq's north and west, spurring the partial collapse of the nation's armed forces.

The militants, who call themselves the Islamic State, have declared an Islamic caliphate in that territory and have vowed to press on toward Baghdad.

Amid the chaos, Iraq's Kurdish minority has threatened to hold a referendum on independence for its largely autonomous region in the north.

The parliament said it would delay its next session until Aug. 12, “given the circumstances facing the country.”

“We're looking at a dire situation on the ground, which is why it's so important that things move forward urgently on the ground,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington in reaction to the delay.

The acting speaker said later that the lawmakers are likely to meet sooner — on Sunday — but that an official announcement of that change would not occur until Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

Opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite who Sunni Arabs and Kurds say has marginalized them in favor of sectarian policies, has forced a deadlock over the selection of a new leadership.

A senior Iraqi general was killed in fighting with insurgents near Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. Negm Abdullah Ali, commander of the army's Sixth Division, responsible for defending part of Baghdad, was killed 10 miles northwest of the capital.

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