Shiite Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr and his bloc today announced that they would put their weight behind the formation of a government headed by Nouri Al-Maliki, Iraq’s current Prime Minister, who with Sadr’s support, seems likely to retake his position.
Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiyya bloc won a slight majority of the seats in March’s elections, said as recently as last Friday that he would reject participation in any government with Maliki as its head. Allawi was quoted as saying that “the political scene has been marred by constitutional violations and deliberate complications by the executive power, with the intent to steal the democratic and constitutional right of the Iraqiya list and sideline it from the political scene.”
Allawi was hampered by his inability to align with the popular Shia factions. This underscores that Iraqi politics is still very much divided along sectarian lines, as Foreign Policy explains:
Despite his electoral slate’s surprisingly strong showing in last March’s parliamentary elections, ‘Allawi’s immediate political future was inherently limited due to the sectarian dynamics that continue to shape political discourse in post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi politics. It is certainly true that the ‘Iraqiyya list garnered a respectable nationwide level of cross-sectarian support. However, the dominant political factions in today’s Iraq represent points within a spectrum of Shiite Islamist consensus. Unsurprisingly, after years of disenfranchisement and repression, this segment of the political class is hugely defensive of its entitlement to rule the country. The political courtship of ‘Allawi by various figures from the Shiite establishment was more about negotiating leverage within the intra-Shiite contest for power than about real cross-sectarian outreach.