Thursday, July 24, 2014

Iraq leader Nouri al-Maliki 'rejected Iran's pressure to step down'

    Thursday, July 24, 2014   No comments

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rejected an attempt by Iran to persuade him to step down, senior Iraqi politicians said Wednesday, underlining his determination to defy even his top ally to push for a third term in office and further exacerbating the country's political crisis.

Al-Maliki has for weeks been resisting growing pressure for him to step aside, including from former Shiite political allies and from Iraq's top Shiite spiritual authority. His critics see the Shiite prime minister as too divisive to form a government that can win support from the Sunni minority against the militant-led Sunni insurgency that has seized control of a large swathe of the country.


But the recent meeting between al-Maliki and Iran's pointman in Iraq, senior General Ghasem Soleimani, was the first sign that Iran also believed he should go. Iran was crucial for al-Maliki in winning a second term four years ago, when Tehran used leverage over Shiite parties to ensure their backing for him during gruelling negotiations over a government at the time.

Al-Maliki's rejection of the Iranian pressure puts Tehran in an unclear position, effectively posing it the choice of relenting to his remaining in the post or of hiking up pressure.

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Ed Isr

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