According to a number of reports, Nouri al Maliki will remain Prime Minister of Iraq if a power-sharing deal currently under consideration is ratified. Some within the government dispute that anyone has actually been named to a post, although many are agreeing that a power-sharing deal is near. At the same time, northern neighbor Turkey, along with the United States, renewed calls for Iraq to resolve the impasse that has frozen political progress in the country since elections earlier this year
Concerns over Iranian influence in a Maliki government, as well as suspicions by Iraqi Sunnis over how inclusive he intends to be, may continue to complicate such a deal, however. Early on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced a cautious note, stating that such announcements have been made in the past.
Since elections last March, Iraq has been effectively without a government. The party of al Maliki, the State of Law Party, has been in a struggle with Ayad Allawi and the Iraqiya party. Mr. Allawi received a great deal of support from the Sunni minority, while Mr. Maliki has the backing of Muktada al Sadr’s Sadrist party, and by extension Iran. Recent comments by Mr. Allawi cast doubt on his inclusion as a member of a Maliki government, implying that he may well lead the opposition in parliament.
Iraq’s neighbors remain eager to see the question of who will lead the country resolved. To the south, Saudi Arabia continues to be sensitive to grievances by the Sunni population in Iraq, as well as to possible Iranian influences. In addition, Turkey remains concerned about how the next Iraq government will handle the question of Kirkuk and the Kurdish north. Reported Kurdish support for this emerging power-sharing agreement will likely have Ankara keeping a close eye on the details.
The United States, of course, has a vested interest in promoting the rapid establishment of a stable government that excludes Iran as much as possible. On Nov. 8, Secretary Clinton called upon Iraq to form an inclusive government. Questions of fairness aside, including a significant Sunni presence, is likely seen as a hedge against Iranian influence. As details emerge over the coming days and weeks, the US will almost certainly continue trying to nudge Iraq away from Iran while avoiding the appearance of meddling.
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