Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi Shi’ite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr called on Baghdad to pursue a new regional foreign policy with the formation of a new government led by Prime Minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi.
“We must open up to the other countries [in the region] to end the security and sectarian crises,” the Sadrist leader said in a statement at a joint press conference with Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) leader Ammar Al-Hakim.
Hakim, another senior Shi’ite figure in Iraq who opposed Maliki’s bid for a controversial third term in office and is now backing Abadi, reiterated Sadr’s call for a new regional foreign policy, saying it was a mistake for Maliki to avoid allying with neighboring Arab states.
“One of the mistakes that the Maliki government made was to avoid allying with neighboring states, including Saudi Arabia. We must return this relationship to return security [to the region],” Sadr said.
Sadr and Hakim both publicly announced their support for Abadi and the national unity government he is seeking to form during the press conference which was held on Thursday in Najaf.
Abadi has until September 10 to form a new government. Sadr and Hakim confirmed that government talks are well under way, with the distribution of ministerial portfolios currently under discussion. Abadi has pledged to form a national unity government that includes all components of the Iraqi people.
“We will strongly support the new government to end the political and security crises through dialogue so that it will be a true government of national participation,” he said.
ISCI MP Mohamed Al-Kash told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Some parties are seeking true participation, including the ISCI and the Sadrist Movement. However other parties do not want the Abadi government to succeed and this represents a grave threat to Iraq.”
He called on all parties to deal “realistically” with the situation in the country and work together to form a government as soon as possible.