Iraq’s premier designate was gaining widespread support from countries hoping political reconciliation will undercut jihadists, as Iran Tuesday appeared to further dash Nuri al-Maliki’s hopes of clinging to power.
Washington urged Maliki’s successor, Haidar al-Abadi, to rapidly form a broad-based government able to unite Iraqis in the fight against jihadist-led militants who have overrun swathes of the country.
Abadi came from behind in a protracted and acrimonious race to become Iraq’s new premier when President Fuad Masum Monday accepted his nomination and tasked him with forming a government. He has 30 days to build a team which will face the daunting task of defusing sectarian tensions and, in the words of US President Barack Obama, convincing the Sunni Arab minority that IS “is not the only game in town”.
In a signal that a key ally of Maliki’s was now supporting his rival Abadi, Iran on Tuesday said it backed the legal process which led to him being replaced.
Predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia also expressed happiness for Abidi. Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal said Abidi’s nomination is a “happy news”. In a similar reaction, Turkey also termed the latest development as a “positive and important” step.
The Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi backed the nomination of Abadi. Meanwhile, embattled Maliki told the Iraqi forces to stay out of the ‘political crisis’.