BAGHDAD — Hopes for the quick formation of a new Iraqi government were dashed Tuesday when the first session of parliament failed to make progress and was forced to disband after less than two hours when minority Sunnis and Kurds walked out.
The deadlock came as a militant offensive grinds on in large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria and the United Nations said civilian casualties set a record high in June.
Over the past three weeks, fighters from the al-Qaida breakaway group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have spearheaded the offensive that has plunged Iraq into its deepest crisis since the last U.S. troops left in 2011.
The Sunni militant group's advance appears to have crested, at least for now, as it bumps up against majority Shiite areas, and as it seeks to consolidate its control of the large chunk of territory already in hand.
The militant onslaught, which has tapped into deep-seated grievances among the country's Sunni minority with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government, has made the formation of a new government that can hold the country together and confront the threat a pressing concern.
Acting speaker Mahdi al-Hafidh ended the proceedings after most of the 328-member legislature's Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers did not return after a short break, depriving parliament of a quorum. The entire session, from the opening national anthem to al-Hafidh's final words, lasted less than two hours.