BAGHDAD, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Washington said it would no longer back incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unless he breaks ties with Moqtada Sadr, a source said.
Maliki moved close to the 163-seat majority needed to form a government in Iraq after lawmakers loyal to Sadr, an anti-American cleric, their support behind the incumbent.
In turn, Sadr supporters allegedly gave Maliki until Friday to meet their calls for key ministerial positions in a new government, including oversight over appointments in the ministry of defense, London's pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat reports.
Washington expressed reluctance over dealing with a Baghdad government with supporters of its arch Iraqi foe holding key Cabinet positions. Sources in the Shiite-led National Iraqi Alliance, led by revered cleric Ammar al-Hakim, said Washington called on Maliki to abandon the Sadrists, the London newspaper adds.
Jawad al-Hassanawi, a leading figure in the Sadrist movement, told the newspaper, however, that Maliki was "strongly committed" to the Sadrists. Sources close to Hakim, meanwhile, said Washington "will stop supporting" Maliki if he continues with the Sadrist alliance.
Iraqi has gone 222 days since March 7 elections gave the secular Iraqiya slate a two-seat win in parliamentary elections, a world record in being unable to form a government after a vote.