In Pictures

In pictures: The Maliki years

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki took office in 2006, but seems set to hand over power after another Shia politician, Haider al-Abadi, was nominated to succeed him. His premiership was a tumultuous time for Iraq that began with high hopes and ended with an insurgency raging in the north and US air strikes against Sunni rebels.

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Nouri Maliki rose to prominence after the 2003 US-led invasion, as a lawmaker for the Dawa party. A former party activist from southern Iraq, he lived in self-imposed exile during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

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He was appointed prime minister in 2006, as Iraq was in the grip of a bloody three-way conflict involving US forces and Sunni and Shia militias.

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The sectarian conflict intensified after Sunni insurgents attacked this Shia mosque in the city of Samarra in 2006.

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In the same year, Shia Iraqis welcomed news of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of an al-Qaeda-linked group that had targeted their community.

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In 2008, Mr Maliki ordered Iraq's fledgling army into battle against radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr's militia. Their victory enhanced the prime minister's reputation as a strongman.

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Meanwhile, a boost in the US troop deployment - coupled with the creation of tribal militias, bankrolled by the US - helped tamp down the Sunni insurgency.

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In 2008, the US announced it would gradually hand over control of security to Iraqi forces. Anger at the US remained high, however. At a press conference in Baghdad, Mr Maliki tried to defend visiting US President George W Bush from a pair of shoes, flung in protest by an Iraqi reporter.

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Many Iraqis also directed their anger at Mr Maliki, regarding him as an increasingly authoritarian leader.

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Despite Iraq's great oil wealth, the government struggled to provide basic services such as electricity and sewage, again fuelling discontent.

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Image caption In 2010, Iraq went to the polls. Mr Maliki secured a second term in office, amid fierce protests from his rivals.

In 2010, Iraq went to the polls. Mr Maliki secured a second term in office, amid fierce protests from his rivals.

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Image caption Mr Maliki became isolated politically after 2010, as Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders complained that he was monopolising power. After the eruption of a jihadist-led insurgency in the north of Iraq in 2014, Mr Maliki has faced intense pressure to step down.

Mr Maliki became isolated politically after 2010, as Sunni Arab and Kurdish leaders complained that he was monopolising power. After the eruption of a jihadist-led insurgency in the north of Iraq in 2014, Mr Maliki has faced intense pressure to step down.