EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

World News

April 10, 2010

Iran: Iraq's government must include Sunnis

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iranian ambassador to Baghdad said Saturday that Iraq's new government should include all political blocs — including Sunnis — in a shift for a country that has long advocated an Iraqi government dominated by fellow Shiites.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi's comments were a sign that Iran, which has promoted Shiite power since the fall of Saddam Hussein, recognizes that the March 7 parliamentary vote was simply too close to completely sideline any one political bloc.

"All the blocs must participate," Qomi said at a news conference in Baghdad. "It must be comprehensive."

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc, which drew on heavy Sunni support, came out two seats ahead in the national vote. But neither Allawi's list nor the Shiite-led bloc of incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which came in second, got enough support to govern alone.

Now the sides are scrambling to cobble together enough backing to form a government.

Iran has played a powerful role in Iraqi politics. Iran and Iraq both have majority Shiite populations, and are bound by strong religious ties. But the two nations fought a ruinous, eight-year war in the 1980s in which a million people were killed or wounded. Memories of that conflict continue to feed mutual suspicion between Iraqis and Iranians.

On Saturday, Qomi said he expected a delegation from the Iraqiya bloc to visit his country, adding that "Tehran's doors are open for all political parties."

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill urged the Iranian ambassador not to interfere in Iraqi politics.

Told of Qomi's comments endorsing Iraqiya as the Sunni voice in the new government, Hill abruptly dismissed the input, saying: "My suggestion to him would be to leave that up to the Iraqis."

Earlier, Hill predicted it would still be months before a new government was up and running, referring to the process as the "dreaded period of government formation."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
World News

NDN Video
US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List Raw: IDF Footage Said to Show Airstrikes Police: Ferguson More Peaceful Raw: Aftermath of Airstrike in Gaza Raw: Thousands March on Pakistani Parliament Raw: World's Oldest Man Lives in Japan Fire Crews Tame Yosemite Fire Raw: Police Weapon Drawn Near Protesters, Media Raw: Explosions in Gaza As Airstrikes Resume Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape
Photos of the Week