After the main factions agreed a government-forming deal on Wednesday it was followed by a two-day Parliament walkout, but the new government now seems a little firmer.
Shiite Nouri al–Maliki will remain prime minister and Kurd Jalal Talabani will stay on as President, while Osama al–Nujaifi, a Sunni Arab, has been selected as parliament speaker. Other top posts are likely to be appointed through a points system based on the election results.
Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi, whose bloc gained two more votes in the March elections than al–Maliki’s, will head a new body, the Council for National Strategy. AFP describes this as a ‘sop’ to Allawi, whilst Amin Saikal, director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, wrote for ABC that the council: “could act as a powerful policy body within and above the government.”
There’s consensus that Iran and the US are both believed to be happy, and most commentators believe they influenced the outcome or at least the speed of the deal. Al-Maliki appears to have US support despite the fact he received last-minute aid from a group run by one of the US’s enemies, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Hamid Fadhel, professor of politics at Baghdad University, said the deal could not have been struck without the backing of Tehran and Washington, reports AFP. “Maliki succeeded in being the acceptable choice of both Iran and America. That choice kind of balances the interests of America in Iraq and Iran in Iraq.”
Despite the relief this deal has brought, not everyone is convinced it will bring greater stability. Saikal said: “The Iraqis may need to brace themselves for more bloodshed, insecurity and uncertainty. In all this, the danger is that Iraq may well disintegrate into various entities.”
(Source: AFP, ABC)