Maliki visits Turkey for talks on government crisis in Iraq

As part of, what he calls, his “short but very significant” visit on Thursday, Iraqi PM Maliki also met President Gül. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had talks with top Turkish officials on Thursday, discussing his bid to form a government in his first visit to Turkey since Iraq’s parliamentary elections seven months ago.

 As part of, what he calls, his “short but very significant” visit  on Thursday, Iraqi PM Maliki also met President Gül.
Maliki, who met with President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in ?stanbul and Ankara, said upon his arrival that he was in Turkey for a “short but very significant” visit. Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, accompanying Maliki, said the talks would focus on ways to further improve Turkish-Iraqi relations.
Turkey is the last stop of a tour of the region by Maliki, which earlier took him to Jordan, Iran, Syria and Egypt. Maliki, a Shiite, has recently won crucial support from Iran-backed, anti-US Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but remains at odds with some Shiite groups and the secular, Sunni-backed al-Iraqiya bloc that won the most votes in the March elections.
Arab nations want Iraqiya to be part of the next government but Iraqiya itself has refused to join if Maliki is prime minister.
Turkey also seems to be eager to see Iraqiya in government since it also includes Sunni groups. Ankara says any government should be broad-based and fears the exclusion of Sunnis from the government could prevent stability in the war-torn country.
A senior political source in Maliki’s coalition told Reuters that the prime minister was offering Arab nations investment deals in exchange for their efforts to nudge Iraqiya towards compromise.
“Maliki has a serious problem called Iraqiya…There is a strong current inside Iraqiya looking to make a deal with Maliki but they fear regional countries,” said the source, who is a member of the Shiite-led Iraqi National Alliance. “He [Maliki] needs these countries to put pressure on Iraqiya to get its support. In exchange, he is ready to give them oil at preferential prices, give them investments.”
Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu had talks with Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a prominent Sunni leader and a frequent visitor to Turkey, during a visit to Qatar, discussing the internal political situation in Iraq. On Wednesday, Davuto?lu also spoke to Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, reiterating during the conversation that the new government in Iraq should be broad-based, the Anatolia news agency reported.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rauf Sheibani said on Monday that Maliki was “one of the suitable choices” to lead the next Iraqi government, the clearest indication that Tehran wants Maliki to stay in power. Sheibani was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency as citing Maliki’s experience leading Iraq and the current “sensitive conditions” during the withdrawal of the US military.
The pact with al-Sadr was critical for Maliki, but it has alarmed Washington because of al-Sadr’s former militia ties and his likely demands for key roles in a new government. The United States has not publicly endorsed any candidate to lead Iraq, but has repeatedly stressed the need for the next government to represent all of Iraq’s groups. These include members of Iraqiya bloc.
Iyad Allawi, the head of Iraqiya, has strongly denounced Iran as trying to destabilize Iraq and steer its political process. “I won’t be begging Iran to agree upon my nomination,” Allawi told the Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel on Sunday in a clear jab at Maliki. He added that Iran should get out of Iraqi politics and “not impose or support one faction over the other.”


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