|Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al Maliki, is fighting to stay in his job after March’s inconclusive election [EPA]
Saudi Arabia has invited Iraq’s political leaders to meet in Riyadh in an effort to resolve months of deadlock over forming a new government.
Saturday’s invite from Saudi’s King Abdullah has drawn negative reaction from some politicians in Baghdad who fear foreign interference in Iraq’s political process.
The king called on Iraqi leaders to meet in Riyadh on an unspecified date after the annual Haj pilgrimage scheduled for November.
“Everyone knows that you are at a crossroads, and you must make all possible efforts to unite yourselves … to surmount your differences and extinguish the flames of ugly sectarianism,” the king said in a statement published by the official SPA news agency.
“We … assure you of our full readiness to help you and support you in whatever resolution you agree upon in order to restore security and peace to the land of Mesopotamia,” he said.
But supporters of Nuri al-Maliki, the Shia prime minister seeking to keep his job after an inconclusive election earlier this year, dismissed the invitation.
“This Saudi initiative is not positive, and that country does not have a role to play because it has not been neutral in recent years; it has always had a negative attitude toward (Maliki) and (his) State of Law” bloc,” Sami al-Askari, an Iraqi MP from al-Malaiki’s State of Law bloc said.
“Had this invitation come from other countries, such as Jordan, Syria or even Turkey, it would have had a better chance of being well received.”
A spokeswoman for the winning Iraqiya list, led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, welcomed the Saudi monarch’s initiative.
“We ask all political blocs to welcome the initiative, preventing Iraq’s security situation from deteriorating” amid continued political deadlock, said Maysoon al-Damluji.
Iraq has been without a government since the election on March 7 this year, when the Sunni dominated Iraqiya bloc led by Allawi won 91 seats and the Malaki’s State of Law netted 89.
Despite months of political horsetrading and backroom negotiations, neither side has been able to secure a governing majority in the parliament, leaving the country in political paralysis.
The impasse has concerned regional governments, who fear it could derail plans for a US troops pullout slated for the end of 2011.