Baghdad: The leader of the Iraqi bloc that came first in elections accused Iran on Sunday of trying to destabilize Iraq and manipulate the political process as he jeered at rival politicians seeking Tehran`s blessing for forming the next government.
Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite, narrowly won the most seats in the March 7 vote with strong Sunni backing but did not get nearly enough to control the government outright. That allowed his chief rival, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to sideline the Iraqiya political party that Allawi heads by forming a Shiite-dominated alliance similar to the current government and close to Iran.
"I won`t be begging Iran to agree upon my nomination," Allawi told the Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel.
He added that Iran should get out of Iraqi politics and "not impose or support one faction over the other."
Allawi`s remarks were a clear jab at al-Maliki, who heads to Iran on Monday as he scrambles for enough Shiite support to keep his job. There were also new indications that al-Maliki`s efforts to enlist Sunni allies in the region are falling short. The king of neighboring Jordan pointedly avoided endorsing the Iraqi prime minister for a second term in a statement Sunday.
The developments injected new doubt that Iraq`s political mess will be resolved any time soon. It has been more than seven months since parliamentary elections that failed to produce a clear winner and the country is still without a government.
Allawi has threatened to boycott the next government if al-Maliki remains in office, although U.S. diplomats are trying to broker a detente that would give the Iraqiya leader some power and key ministry jobs if he backs down.
Al-Maliki recently clinched support from hardline Shiite political parties close to Iran. With that, and assuming he is backed as expected by a key Kurdish coalition, he will have enough allies to remain in office.
In a second television interviews aired Sunday, Allawi accused Iran of fomenting unrest in Iraq, Lebanon and among Palestinians. He said Mideast nations are "falling victim to ... terrorists who are definitely Iran-financed."
"We know that unfortunately, Iran is trying to wreak havoc on the region," Allawi said. "And definitely in Iraq, I can say categorically that Iran is trying even to bring about change to the political process according to their wishes and requirements," he told CNN`s "Fareed Zakaria GPS."
Al-Maliki will meet Monday with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.