Iraqi PM, president announce new alliance

The Iraqi prime minister and president on Thursday announced a new alliance of moderate Shi'ites and Kurds, saying Sunni moderates refused to join but the door remained open to them. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the agreement was the first step to unblock political stagnation that has gripped his Shi'ite-led government since it first took power in May 2006. Pressure has been mounting against al-Maliki who has been criticized for having a Shi'ite bias and failing to stop the sectarian violence, which persists in Iraq despite the presence of tens of thousands of extra US troops. Emergency workers and grieving relatives in northern Iraq pressed ahead with salvage efforts two days after a quadruple suicide truck bombing in the village of Qahataniya bear the Syrian border. The attacks targeted Yazidis, a small Kurdish-speaking sect that has been targeted by Muslim extremists who consider its members to be blasphemers.