By Dr Michael Knights, Vice President and lead Iraq analyst at Olive Group.
On 1 October, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki received the endorsement of just over 140 parliamentarians, drawing close to the 163 votes needed to be re-appointed. I’m on record as predicting that this step will most likely bring about a new Maliki-led government, but I also know that no-one should count their chickens yet. Embracing complexity and uncertainty, then incorporating them into your business plan is the key to successfully operating in Iraq. In the chess game of Iraqi politics, Maliki has his opponents in check: so how will they react to his latest move?
The first thing to note is that nothing has been set in stone: no binding political alliances were signed on 1 October by the National Alliance, the collection of Shiite groups that nominated Maliki as their candidate for prime minister. Any of the groups who backed Maliki can renounce their support at any time. What initially matters is how many endorsements Maliki has the day after the new president of Iraq is appointed by parliament. At that moment, the weight of declared support for Maliki will influence the president as he chooses the leader of the largest coalition (kutla in Arabic) to be the prime minister designate, charged with the first shot at forming a government within thirty days.