News of Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki's travels will put additional pressure on the Bush administration, which seems to have pinned all its hopes on Maliki's government standing up sometime before Bush's legacy is stood down.
Maliki is welcome in Iran:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is scheduled to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran next month, the Iraqi governmental daily al-Sabah wrote on Saturday.But Saudi Arabia isn't interested:
Al-Maliki told the daily he would visit Iran and several Arab countries next month but gave no information about the exact date of his visits.
He said Iraq is ready to turn into a bridge linking Arab states and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iraq can play as a mediator between arab states and Iran or any other neighboring country, the Premier said.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has denied Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki entrance into Saudi Arabia, according to a senior Saudi intelligence source.The president of Iran was recently welcomed by the Saudi monarch. The suspicion must be that he prefers to deal with the organ-grinder rather than his monkey.
The king believes al-Maliki, who wanted to go to Saudi Arabia on a state visit, is not doing enough to protect Sunnis from attacks by Shias, the source said.
The Saudi kingdom is a Sunni-dominated state.
There was no immediate reaction from al-Maliki's office.
Maliki is the man that the Bush administration hopes will accept benchmarks and a timetable that they themselves refuse to be tied to and don't want to talk about.
Several American officials who have spoken recently with Mr. Maliki say they believe that he would like to achieve the kind of political reconciliation that Mr. Bush outlined in January as the ultimate goal of the troop increase. But they say the Iraqi prime minister appears to have little ability to manage the required legislation, including bills requiring fair distribution of oil revenues among Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, and reversing the American-led de-Baathification that barred many Sunnis from participation in the new government.But it may be that the Iraqi PM is more a part of the problem than of the solution.
Even as administration officials have been telling Congress that Mr. Bush would accept no time limits on success, they have been pushing Mr. Maliki to move faster.
“He is trying to fight fires coming from every direction,” Ryan C. Crocker, the newly arrived American ambassador to Iraq, said of Mr. Maliki this week, speaking by telephone. “We have to be clear to him on where our priorities are, so that we can buy him the time he needs. And we have to buy the time now because he is going to need it in the future.”