Davutoglu pushes for end to Iraq's political gridlock
In a bid to push political leaders in neighboring Iraq to overcome the political deadlock that has gripped the country for eight months, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu yesterday urged all Iraqi political groups to come to the same table to form a government. During a hastily arranged one-day visit, Davutoglu first stopped in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, followed by Baghdad. "We hope to soon see all Iraqi ethnic and political groups gathered around a table to pave the way for the formation of a government in this country," Davutoglu said in Erbil before talks with the region's president, Massoud Barzani, and its prime minister, Barham Salih. Davutoglu reiterated support for Barzani's initiative to bring together the leaders of Iraq's four successful election alliances in Erbil today to resolve the government crisis. In Baghdad, in addition to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Davutoglu also held talks with al-Iraqiya list leader Ayad Allawi, whose bloc won the most seats in Parliament yet fell short of the outright majority needed to form a new cabinet; Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a prominent Sunni leader and frequent visitor to Turkey; Deputy Prime Minister Rafi al-Issawi, who also heads al-Iraqiya's negotiating committee; Ammar al-Hakim, the head of Iraq's Islamic Supreme Council; and Special UN Envoy to Iraq Ad Melkert. Davutoglu's visit came only days ahead of a planned meeting of the Iraqi parliament, which is set to elect a speaker on Thursday – a move that could break the eight-month political deadlock and lead to Maliki's reappointment as prime minister.