WASHINGTON — Disappointed by the election performance of Iraq’s moderate parties, U.S. officials have established a more modest goal as Iraqi leaders divide power in a new government: preventing religious or nationalist parties from gaining a strong hold on the army and police.

American officials have made it a priority to persuade the winners in the election not to give top posts in the defense and interior ministries to anyone linked to armed groups such as the Shiite Muslim-controlled Badr and Al Mahdi militias, and the Kurds’ peshmerga forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials say. | story

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