Iraq’s sitting prime minister has gone to Iran, hoping his attempt for a new term will win support from his Shi’ite neighbour.
After a meeting with Nouri al-Maliki, Iran’s hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have said the formation of a government would end a period of hardship for the Iraqi people.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei called on Iraq’s squabbling political factions to agree on forming an administration. Baghdad has been without a government since no outright winner emerged from elections in March.
It is believed Iran has already persuaded a one-time vehement opponent to back Maliki. The firebrand Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr controls 40 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
Maliki’s main rival, former prime minister Ayad Allawi, believes Iran is trying to impose its will in Iraq, resulting in the opposition being squeezed out of power.
There are similar fears held by the United States and neighbouring Middle East countries, wary about Iran’s growing influence in Iraq and elsewhere in the region.