Iran has extended congratulations to the Iraqi people and clergy for the election of their new prime minister, Haidar Al-Abadi. The head of Iran’s National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, stated that Iran supports the “legal process” of Mr. Al-Abadi’s election.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei also lent his support to Al-Abadi in a speech on Wednesday August 13.

Iran, one of the top supporters of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maleki, has reportedly been keen on putting its weight behind another leader since the sectarian conflict in Iraq reached critical levels and Al-Maleki was apparently unable to unable to bring the country together. Al-Maleki’s critics have accused him of contributing to the sectarian divides with his policies.

Turkey, France and the United States have also expressed support for the change in the Iraqi leadership.

Ali Shamkhani called on all Iraqi groups and coalitions to make every effort to maintain the country’s unity and totality against external threats.

Al-Abadi, like Al-Maleki, is a member of the Al-Dawa party. In the interim government after the fall of Saddam Hossein Al-Abadi served as the Minister of Communications. He became a member of parliament in 2006 and, before becoming the deputy head of parliament, he served as the head of its economic commission.

Hours after the announcement of Al-Abadi as prime minister, Nouri Al-Maleki supporters issued a statement criticizing his election.