Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has decided to support Nouri al-Maliki’s return as prime minister of Iraq, in a move that ends more than six months of political stalemate that left the Middle Eastern country without a government. However, Time says that al-Sadr’s support for al-Maliki should be watched closely. The magazine notes that the Shiite cleric also backed the prime minister in 2006 but quickly abandoned camp over disagreement in perspectives.
Meanwhile, Iraq can draw up to USD741 million from its USD1.2 billion standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which recently completed its review of the country’s economic performance. Naoyuki Shinohara, deputy managing director and acting chairman of IMF’s executive board, noted that Iraq has made progress in rebuilding its key economic institutions and maintaining the stability of its economy. Shinohara encouraged Iraq to contain its current spending level in order to improve its attractiveness to foreign investments. A stronger emphasis on spending quality is also needed, Shinohara said in a statement.