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Senior Iranian official holds Al-Maliki responsible for army defeat

The Chairman of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani criticised Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and held him responsible for the fall of Mosul to ISIS militants, saying that Al-Maliki is an unpopular figure.

In a statement posted on his official website, Rafsanjani said: "The Iraqi army did not achieve great victories in Iraq because the hearts of the people are not with the government. Militants today are threatening all the achievements that took place in Iraq, after the political process was carried out with the approval of the United States and Iran. The Iraqi constitution granting the prime minister's post to the Shia, the presidency to the Kurds and the parliament speaker's post to the Sunnis."

Rafsanjani warned Al-Maliki of the dangers of autocracy, saying "the various Iraqi communities must be involved in the rule" and stressing that the unity and cohesion of the people with the government will provide ground to resolve the crisis and expel the Islamic State and separatists from Iraq.

Rafsanjani's remarks are the first time a senior Iranian official criticises the policies of exclusion and marginalisation practiced by Al-Maliki's government against the Iraqi people and holds him responsible for the defeats suffered by the army.

Meanwhile, a source in the office of Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali Al-Sistani revealed a new message sent by the latter to Al-Maliki asking him to withdraw his candidacy for the post of prime minister so as not to create an obstacle for other candidates.

The source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news website that the letter included a blunt warning to Al-Maliki which said: "Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki your insistence to run for a third term embarrasses us because if you do not give up and give way to someone else, we will have to mention you by name in a statement and embarrass you as an undesirable person."

Media reports claimed earlier that the religious authority in Najaf informed the head of the National Alliance, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari that he had granted Al-Maliki a few days to withdraw his candidacy and propose an alternative.

For his part, member of parliament for the liberal parliamentary bloc, Jumaa Dewan Bahadli said his bloc supports the Citizen Coalition candidates, Ahmed Chalabi, and Adil Abdul-Mahdi to the prime ministry.

Chalabi said on Facebook: "I and the Mahdi are the strongest names so far, and the rest of the blocs have to propose their candidates. The Sate of Law Coalition has to propose a candidate other than Al-Maliki if it wants our alliance to continue."

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