Iranâ€™s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) speaks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki during an official meeting in Tehran October 18, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi
BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 (UPI) — Washington said it would no longer back incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unless he breaks ties with Moqtada Sadr, a source said.
Maliki moved close to the 163-seat majority needed to form a government in Iraq after lawmakers loyal to Sadr, an anti-American cleric, their support behind the incumbent.
In turn, Sadr supporters allegedly gave Maliki until Friday to meet their calls for key ministerial positions in a new government, including oversight over appointments in the ministry of defense, Londonâ€™s pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reports.
Washington expressed reluctance over dealing with a Baghdad government with supporters of its arch Iraqi foe holding key Cabinet positions. Sources in the Shiite-led National Iraqi Alliance, led by revered cleric Ammar al-Hakim, said Washington called on Maliki to abandon the Sadrists, the London newspaper adds.
Jawad al-Hassanawi, a leading figure in the Sadrist movement, told the newspaper, however, that Maliki was â€œstrongly committedâ€ to the Sadrists. Sources close to Hakim, meanwhile, said Washington â€œwill stop supportingâ€ Maliki if he continues with the Sadrist alliance.
Iraqi has gone 222 days since March 7 elections gave the secular Iraqiya slate a two-seat win in parliamentary elections, a world record in being unable to form a government after a vote.