The Wall Street Journal reports: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is losing political support for his bid for a third term from core backers, including the country’s Shiite religious establishment and ally Iran, say Iraqi officials.
The shift, officials said, is prompting members of the premier’s own alliance to reconsider their support and dimming the prospect of his stay in power.
In recent days, high-level delegations of Iranian military officials and diplomats held a flurry of meetings in Baghdad and the Shiite religious capital Najaf, where they were told that Mr. Maliki, a Shiite, has lost the confidence of all but his most loyal inner circle, Iraqi officials with knowledge of the meetings said.
One Iraqi official briefed on the meetings said Iranian representatives signaled during their visit that Tehran has “really started to lean away from Maliki as a candidate.”
Also critically, Mr. Maliki’s bid to stay in office has, say prominent Shiite politicians, run into opposition from Iraq’s top Shiite spiritual authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has become central to the grinding talks between political blocs to form a government. [Continue reading…]