Iran in Saudi secret talks bid to solve Iraq crisis
Tehran, July 5, 2014
Iran is sending officials to Saudi Arabia for secret talks about replacing Iraq's embattled Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki, with a compromise candidate who might broker a political solution to the deepening crisis there.
The move towards co-operation by the two regional enemies reflects growing alarm at the situation in Iraq, where lightning gains by the Al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, threaten both countries, said the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, citing a London Times report.
Saudi Arabia this week deployed 30,000 extra troops along its border with Iraq after Baghdad pulled its forces out of the area, leaving the world's largest oil producer to defend its frontier alone.
The move by Iran's President Hassan Rouhani to solicit Saudi backing for a compromise candidate is a remarkable step, given the enmity between the two powers, but reflects the desperation in both capitals, the report added.
With Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish government taking steps towards declaring full independence, it falls to Tehran and Riyadh to break the political deadlock in Baghdad.
Iran has been Maliki's principal backer since he took power in 2006, but has reluctantly conceded that he must step aside to save Iraq from implosion. After years of discrimination against Iraq's Sunni and Kurdish minorities by his Shi'ite-led government, Maliki is considered too widely hated to lead the country out of crisis.
Tehran is therefore ready to ditch the prime minister and has drawn up a list of potential replacements. Saudi Arabia has said it will urge Iraqi groups it can influence to join a unity government, but only if Maliki goes.
Iran has realised that the Iraqi crisis won't be settled without Saudi backing.
Meanwhile, Maliki insisted yesterday he would "never give up" seeking a third term in office. "I will never give up on my candidacy for the post of prime minister," he said. In more violence, 15 people were killed in a suicide attack on Iraqi forces south of Samarra.-TradeArabia News Service