Iraq Premier’s Trip Could Undermine His Government

Iraq Premier’s Trip Could Undermine His Government

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki seemed set Monday on keeping his mid-week rendezvous with President Bush in Amman, Jordan, even though it could mean risking the survival of his government.

The summit called by Bush is opposed by Moqtada al-Sadr, the combative Shiite cleric and a crucial prop to Maliki's government. Al-Sadr, who is virulently against the continued U.S. presence in Iraq, has threatened to withdraw his political support if the prime minister meets Bush on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite television news service, quoted Faleh Hasan Shanshal, al-Sadr's political aide, as saying, "We have asked al-Maliki to cancel his meeting with Bush. . . . We will suspend membership in parliament and the cabinet if he goes ahead." This was taken to mean that the al-Sadr group would withdraw its support from Iraq's coalition government and precipitate a political crisis.

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