Iraqi Govt Patchwork Alliance May Struggle to Survive

Similarly, Iraq's ruling Shia groups must also prove that they are committed to the process of reconciliation and peaceful politics.

Eyes will be particularly fixed on the Sadrist bloc, which won nearly 40 seats in the elections, to see if they have given up on violent politics. The Sadrists walked out on Maliki's first government in 2007 and only joined his current one at the behest of Iran. For now, their control of the service ministries (housing, public works, labour and planning) will be utilised to strengthen their grassroots base.

As it stands, the new government has been determined on the basis of appeasement rather than accountability, efficiency and effectiveness, bearing in mind that this was the country's first chance to have a serious opposition, in the form of the INM, that could hold the government to account.

At worst, the power-sharing arrangement will lead to fragmentation or, at best, stagnation. The internal strife has already started, with the Kurds rejecting official and media reports that suggest Hussain al-Shahristani, the former oil minister who has been at loggerheads with the Kurds over energy contracts, will retain his influence over the energy sector in his capacity as deputy premier.

What will also be a point of contention are the powers of the new National Council of Strategic Policies, headed by Allawi subject to it being granted its powers by parliament. Granting the council powers that restrict those of the prime minister will satisfy and placate Allawi. Restricting it to a mere advisory role may provoke a rebellion, albeit a weak one given that the INM is divided and Allawi's powerful colleagues like Salah al-Mutlaq (deputy prime minister) and Nujayfi are now unlikely to follow suit.

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