Kurds push for end to Iraq impasse

by Andrew England and Roula Khalaf in Marrakech

Published: October 28 2010 17:30 | Last updated: October 28 2010 18:39

A Kurdish alliance that has taken on the role of kingmaker in Iraq’s political crisis is pushing for a meeting of rival Iraqi leaders in a bid to solve an eight-month impasse.

Barham Salih, a senior Kurdish official, said Nouri al-Maliki, incumbent prime minister, had come very close to agreeing to almost all their terms as he battles to retain his post.

But Mr Salih, prime minister of the Kurdish regional government, told the Financial Times that the Kurds, who have nearly 60 seats in the 325-member assembly, were making clear to all parties that the next government should be inclusive and have credible Sunni Arab representation.

Mr Maliki’s State of Law coalition, which is predominantly Shia, has already agreed to an alliance with the radical Shia, and anti-US, Sadrist movement. If Mr Maliki was to secure the support of the Kurds, he would have a majority in the parliament.

However, the picture has been complicated by the refusal of Iraqiya, a secular list led by Iyad Allawi, Mr Maliki’s arch rival, to join any administration headed by the prime minister. Iraqiya was backed by Sunni Arabs and its exclusion from government has raised concerns about possible sectarian violence.

Balance of article. . . . .