The strategies on Iraq of neighbouring states seem to be coming clearer.
This week, al-Maliki has been in Iran to meet both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian head of state. Al-Maliki described the two countries' relationship as "strategic", saying: "We ask Iran and our neighbours to support our reconstruction and to boost economic and commercial co-operation, which will help improve stability in our region." Both Ahmadinejad and Khamenei called for the political groups in Iraq to come to a deal quickly.
Khamenei said: ""The Iraqi nation is vigilant and aggressors cannot dominate this country again. May God get rid of America in Iraq so that its people's problems are solved." Iranian television also reported that Ahmadinejad completely supports a strong and independent Iraq that "serves its own people and works for regional progress and Islamic values."
The meeting has been played down by the United States, with State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley saying that the visit shouldn't be over-interpreted, because the two countries are neighbours. "Ultimately, this has to be an Iraqi decision as part of its own political process." However, he also said that: "We are concerned about any neighbouring country that would meddle in Iraq's affairs."
The US has shown its concern for Iran meddling for some time, believing that it has encouraged violence and terrorism in Iraq. If Iran was to support al-Maliki and remove the terrorist influences of which it's accused of by the US and Allawi, it could improve the bond between the two countries at the expense of al-Maliki's opposition and western powers.
Former Iraqi PM and current contender Iyad Allawi was last week in Saudi Arabia for talks about Iraq's political situation with King Abdullah, as reported by Iraq Business News. Analysts have claimed that al-Maliki is too close to Iran for Saudi Arabia's tastes. In a CNN interview at the weekend, Allawi said Iran was "trying to wreak havoc in the region."
Al-Maliki is also visiting Egypt and Turkey to build more regional support for his premiership.
(Sources: Reuters, Aswat al-Iraq, US State Department, AFP)