By Ranj Alaaldin, a Middle East political and security risk analyst based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He visits the Middle East regularly and as part of his recent work on Iraq has visited the country on a number of fact-finding missions. Foreign Policy magazine recently listed him among its 100 best Twitter users in international affairs. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
On Tuesday, Iraq just about managed to form a government – only days before a constitutional deadline, and nine months since the elections took place. With the cabinet now named and accepted by parliament, the hard work starts for a country that still has many challenges and disputes to overcome.
High on the agenda for the Iraqi government and the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, (who will run the ministries of interior and defence himself until accepted candidates are found) will be to consolidate the security gains of the past three years. In tandem with this will be the usual efforts to improve basic services and infrastructure. Yet, all this depends on the ability of this new government to actually function.
Whether it can function is by no means certain. The government is composed of unlikely political and ideological bedfellows and is the product of desperate power-seeking efforts among easily compromised domestic elements.
The difference this time is the all-inclusiveness of the government. Iraq's Sunni Arabs are now better represented, with the Sunni-dominated Iraqi National movement (INM) of Ayad Allawi taking the parliamentary speaker's post, the deputy premiership and the all-important finance ministry, among others.
The Kurds and the major Shia-dominated groups, including Maliki's State of Law coalition and the Sadrists, took a collection of sovereign and service ministries. While this means Iraq has a truly national government, what it will achieve in terms of policy and direction is not so great, given that it has been formed on the basis of promises and compromises that may be reneged on or delayed at the very least.