The big news this week in Iraq was the announcement of Nouri al-Maliki's new cabinet, and, unusually for such a decision, the fact that it was made several days ahead of the legal deadline.
Nevertheless, BBC reports that Iraq now has the dubious honour of holding the world record for the longest period between an election and the formation of a government. Let's hope it has been worth the wait.
But while every effort appears to have been taken to accommodate the various political factions, it is notable that there is only one woman on the list of 42 new ministers.
One also has to wonder whether 42 ministries is really the most efficient way to run a country like Iraq, but of course efficiency will have taken second place to other considerations during the negotiations.
Criticisms aside, this is, as US President Barack Obama said, “a major step forward”. “Iraq faces important challenges, but the Iraqi people can also seize a future of opportunity.”
Let us wish the new government every success in its efforts to seize that opportunity and re-build the country.