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You are here News International Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agrees to step down

Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki agrees to step down

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Al MalikiEmbattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced Thursday night that he is stepping down, ending a political crisis at a time when Islamist militants have seized large swaths of the country and remain on the offensive.

The Obama administration has blamed al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated government for sparking much of the sectarian strife that has gripped his country, as minority Sunnis have felt alienated and have sympathized with armed Sunni extremists calling themselves the Islamic State.

Al-Maliki made the announcement in an impassioned televised speech to a nation he has led for eight tumultuous years in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

He had been under intense pressure from within his own party, other Iraqis, neighbors in the region and the U.S. government to step down.

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