New Maliki govt with anti-US Shiite Islamic support could complicate Iraq-US relationship

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Baghdad, Oct 2 (ANI): The comeback of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to power, which is widely expected especially after he secured the support of an anti-American Shiite Islamic movement on Friday, could reportedly complicate his country's relations with the United States.

The deal has come as a breakthrough after nearly seven months of bargaining that followed the country's election on March 7.

"We are confident that with the cooperation and efforts of honourable and faithful Iraqis, we will, God willing, be able to overcome the difficulties, challenges and problems and complete the construction of the institutions of state of a free, democratic Iraq," The New York Times quoted Maliki, as saying.

Maliki has gained his new support due to the extraordinary political resurrection of Moktada al-Sadr, the self-exiled cleric whose fighters once battled Iraqi and American troops in the streets of Baghdad, Basra and other cities. Sadr had been opposing Maliki's re-election till days before he rendered his support to the Prime Minister.

While Obama administration officials insisted over months of quiet diplomacy that they preferred no candidate, only a broadly inclusive government, they made it clear that they did not favour a government that included the Sadrists, who are closely allied with Iran and oppose the presence of American troops, the paper said.

"An Iraqi government that owes its existence to the Sadrists and lacks strong support from Allawi would necessarily be one that leans in Tehran's direction, something Washington can little afford at the moment," Daniel P. Serwer, a vice president at the United States Institute of Peace, said.

Maliki now reportedly has the backing of at least 148 lawmakers in the new 325-member Parliament to form a government, just short of a majority. The Kurds, with 57 seats among several parties, has indicated that they, too, would support his re-election, though only with concessions on territorial, economic and political issues. (ANI)

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