Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, one of America’s closest allies in the country, has rebuffed the personal request of President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to relinquish his post as Iraqis form a new government in Baghdad.
Iraqi leaders are expected to announce Thursday a new government in which Mr. Talabani remains president, Nouri al-Maliki remains prime minister and Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya party, which won the most votes in March’s election, will control the speakership of Parliament and the presidency of the National Security Council, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials familiar with negotiations that ended Wednesday in Baghdad between Iraq’s major parties.
Last Saturday, Mr. Obama phoned Mr. Talabani and asked him to give up the seat he has held since 2005 so that Mr. Allawi could be Iraq’s president, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials familiar with the diplomacy. Mr. Obama on Saturday also urged the president of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, to accept Mr. Allawi in the role of the presidency.
I get where the Administration was coming from here — marginalizing Allawi’s party within the government could alienate Sunni Arabs — but a spokesman for the Kurds (Talabani’s son) understandably called the request “very disappointing.”
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