If that assumption is correct, probably the only way Iraqiyya can obtain support for one of their own candidates at defence is to think outside the box. What Iraqiyya could do in order to make Maliki change his mind is to remind him of the fact that the Sadrists are waiting in the wings with a claim for a deputy interior minister. If they want to reach out to Maliki, Iraqiyya could make sure to support an interior ministry candidate that the other Shiites detest. There is precedence for this: In the second half of April 2011, Maliki reportedly offered Iraqiyya to support their candidate for defence if they would give him the necessary support to get rid of Ahmed Chalabi as the interior ministry candidate of the Shiites. Maliki has similarly resisted other candidates for the interior ministry considered too close to the Sadrists such as Abd al-Karim al-Sudani. As recently as September 2011, Maliki was in trouble in Maysan when he imposed a police chief (Ali Ghazi al-Hashemi) with a military and Baathist background against the wishes of ISCI and the Sadrists.
Alas, Iraqiyya is apparently not thinking along those lines at all. In a sad repeat of their manoeuvres to obtain Shiite support for their Ayyad Allawi as premier candidate in summer 2010, Iraqiyya leaders have once more been courting ISCI and Sadrists in order to “challenge” Maliki. As has Turkey. As has the United States (minus the Sadrists). These players just don’t see that the “challenge” to Maliki will never tip the balance.
If Iraqiyya proceeds like this, one of the few likely results of the upcoming national meeting could be the appointment of a Sadrist deputy interior minister. How wonderful.