US Secretary of State John Kerry is urging Iraq's Prime Minister to follow political protocol in an effort to defuse rising tensions in the northern part of the country. Julie Noce reports.
Special forces loyal to Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki are on patrol Monday morning on the streets of Baghdad. Al-Maliki ordered their deployment after making a televised announcement that he does plan to run for a third term, despite pressure not to. He's been serving as caretaker Prime Minister since the election earlier this year failed to produce a clear winner. Critics say he's too polarising- Sunnis, Kurds and even fellow Shi'ites have accused him of sidelining Sunnis, prompting some to support the militant group who are now persecuting residents in the northern part of the country. The Islamic State insurgents- capitalising on the political deadlock in Baghdad- have killed hundreds of people and forced thousands of others to flee the violence. The U.S. military has sent aid to the region and has also carried out airstrikes to help the Kurdish forces who are fighting the insurgents. During a trip to Australia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged al-Maliki not to ignite more political drama. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE, JOHN KERRY, SAYING: "We believe that the government formation process is critical in terms of sustaining stability and calm in Iraq, and our hope is that Mr. Maliki will not stir those waters." At least 30,000 refugees have fled so far, tens of thousands of others are still trapped in a mountainous region in northern Iraq since the Islamic State started its offensive.