Iraqi parliament speaker chosen after days of deadlock

(CNN) -- Iraqi lawmakers elected a Sunni politician as parliament speaker Tuesday, finally taking a step to form a new government after two weeks of deadlock while the country faces a powerful Islamist militant insurgency.

Lawmakers elected Salim al-Jabouri, the head of a Sunni coalition, as speaker of Iraq's Council of Representatives.

The Iraqi Constitution mandated that the job go to a Sunni Muslim.

The same goes for the other top government positions. Each has a designated faction. The President must be Kurdish and the Prime Minister a Shiite.

The body had convened July 1 to elect a new speaker, but the session quickly descended into bickering between members of different parties and had to be rescheduled for July 8. That session was delayed, and more arguing erupted.

Under the constitution, the parliament has 75 days from when it convenes to pick a Prime Minister.

While lawmakers are under pressure to act quickly, the political body has had trouble moving swiftly in the past. The last time parliament met to pick a Prime Minister, it took nearly 10 months.

The quagmire persists even as fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS -- a Sunni-dominated al Qaeda splinter group -- have overtaken large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

The militants want to establish an Islamic state spanning both countries.

President Barack Obama has authorized 300 military advisers in Iraq, 210 of which are there now.

Obama has ordered an assessment of Iraqi security forces, which was given Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Pentagon officials will review the report that evaluates the capabilities, training, morale, leadership and command and control of Iraqi forces and then hand it to the President and give Obama their recommendations for the best next steps in supporting Iraq.

Many Iraqi troops abandoned their posts and fled when faced with attacks from ISIS.

Two U.S. officials told CNN this week that the administration is concerned about the overwhelming sectarianism among members of Iraq's security forces. American commanders are concerned if the United States moves into a direct advisory role of Iraqi government forces, it will be perceived as taking sides with the Iranian-backed Shiite elements inside Iraqi units.

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