News / Middle East

    Outgoing Iraqi PM to Visit Iran to Bolster Candidacy

    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (file photo)
    Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (file photo)

    Iranian media report Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will visit Iran Monday as he trys to shore up support from Iranian leaders for his bid for a second term in office. Mr. Maliki visited Syria this past week for similar reasons, according to analysts.

    Mr. Maliki's expected visit to Iran comes at a time when Iraqi political factions continue to maneuver behind the scenes, weighing whether to support him for a second term or not. Iraq has been without a government since an inconclusive parliamentary election last March.

    Allies of Mr. Maliki indicate that he wants Iran to increase pressure on elements of the loose Shi'ite coalition called the National Alliance to cement his bid for a second term in office.

    The prime minister is also seeking the support of other regional powers. He visited Syria last week and is expected to visit Turkey and Jordan in the coming days. In a speech Saturday, Mr. Maliki described his vision of an Iraq playing a key role in the region.

    He says that Iraq possesses a vast wealth of human and material capital and should therefore play a pivotal role in the region. That role, he insists, should be a positive one, based on a relation of mutual benefit with neighboring countries.

    Iranian TV announced Mr. Maliki's visit to Tehran, reporting that he would discuss the latest developments in Iraq with Iranian leaders.

    Fars News Agency reported that Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani arrived in Tehran Friday to lay the groundwork for Mr. Maliki's visit. The agency added that Bolani would meet with his Iranian counterpart Mustafa Mohammad Najar to discuss border security and trade issues.

    Iran scholar Houchang Hassanyari, who teaches political science at Canada's Royal Military College, says that Iran views Mr. Maliki as an ally and has intervened in his favor to secure the support of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who had opposed him.

    "If it was not for the pressure of the Iranian authorities, Moqtada al-Sadr would not support him," he said. "So, there was a lot of arm-twisting in Iran in the past few months, and finally Muqtada gave him his support. So, he wants to consolidate that support, but also maybe to make the Iranians intervene with the other members of the Iraqi National Alliance to support his candidacy."

    Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who is Mr. Maliki's chief rival, heads a more broad-based, secular coalition that is closer to Saudi Arabia than to Iran. Allawi told Al Arabiya TV Saturday that Iran's behind the scenes "arm-twisting" was having a "negative effect" on Iraq's political equation.

    Houchang Hassanyari also believes that Iranian support for Mr. Maliki could alienate some.

    "Iran is not in favor of [Mr. Maliki's] rival, Mr. Allawi. So, [Maliki] goes [to Tehran] to have Iranian support," he said. "But, I think by doing so, he's going to alienate a number of Arab regimes in the region because many of them are more in favor of Allawi, who is more open to a kind of broad coalition of Shi'ites, sunnis and so forth. In the case of Maliki, he's more identified with his own religious group, the Shia."

    Mr. Allawi, who won two more seats than Mr. Maliki in the March parliamentary election, has also been seeking regional support for his candidacy. He visited Saudi Arabia this past week and met with Saudi King Abdullah.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora