Iraqi and Kurdish officials on Thursday accused Iran of exerting pressure on lawmakers to align with Tehran loyalists.

Political jockeying is at its height in Iraq as the country works towards forming a new government, following the victory of populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s Sairoon coalition in the May elections.

Today Mr Al Sadr is leading a quartet of major parties looking to form the next government if they can secure just 28 more seats to meet the required majority in Parliament.

But while Mr Al Sadr has made a point of distancing himself from Tehran, Hadi Al Amiri, whose coalition came in second, is a staunch supporter of the neighbouring regime.

Tensions have been mounting since Mr Al Amiri and former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki – also favoured by Iran – joined forces against Mr Al Sadr’s quartet bloc.

Meanwhile, Tehran watches closely as the power struggle unravels.

“Iran has held a gun to the head of political parties and politicians across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to form a majority among [Nouri Al Maliki’s] State of Law and [Hadi Al Amiri’s] Al Fatah, some Sunni Lists and Kurdish political parties for the formation of the government,” an official in Kurdistan told The National on condition of anonymity.

“Iran sees this issue and the rivalry with the US as a matter of survival,” the official said, adding that Tehran is seeking to exclude both Mr Al Sadr and incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi from forming a ruling coalition.

Both blocs have also been competing to strike a deal with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) as well as Sunni blocs to establish the biggest ruling alliance in parliament.

Source » thenational