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Friday, October 1

Muqtada Sadr rolls over and backs Maliki; I have no idea what Allawi and Hakim will do next but Washington still thinks Tehran is a potted plant.

On September 25 China's state press outlet, Xinhua, which does everything it can to be supportive of Iran, reported that the Iraqia political bloc, headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, said Saturday it would not join any government headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and "pledged to continue talks with the Shiite religious bloc of the Iraqi National Alliance (INA)." However, around the same day, MEMRI reported that Iran had delivered an ultimatum to the bickering Shiite blocs:
Iran Gives Shi'a Parties In Iraq Five Days To Agree On A PM Candidate

In his meetings in Baghdad with the leaders of the two Shi'a parties, Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law and al-Hakim/al-Sadr's Iraqi National Alliance, Qassim Suleimani, the Iranian official in charge of the Iraqi dossier in the Qods Brigade of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has warned them to chose one of their two rival candidates – Nouri al-Maliki or Adel Abd al-Mahdi – or Iran will support a compromise candidate.

Suleimani was also reported to have demanded that they should avoid elevating Ayad Allawi, the al-Iraqiya head, to the post of prime minister. He stressed that Iran would not allow its interests to be threatened. ...
On September 29 MEMI reported that Mookie had acknowledged he would have to side with Maliki:
Al-Sadr Acknowledges Iranian Pressures to Support al-Maliki

Muqtada al-Sadr told his supporters September 28 that inevitable political pressures have impelled him to throw his support behind outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister.

Al-Sadr who has lived in Qom, Iran, for the last three years, has come under enormous pressure by the Iranian government to support al-Maliki.

Not surprisingly, al-Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi, following his September 29 meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad in Damascus, criticized Tehran for interfering in Iraqi affairs.

Al-Sadr was in coalition with Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Islamic Council that ran in the recent election under the tittle of Iraqi National Coalition. The Sadrists control 41 of the coalition 68 seats in parliament. Al-Hakim, who is considered moderate among the Shi'a groups, has so far stuck to his guns in opposing al-Maliki under any circumstances.

Al-Sadr's support could help improve Al-Maliki's chances, but this suppport is by no means sufficient to guarantee him the post. If joined by al-Sadr's 41 seats, Al-Maliki's State of Law with its 89 seats in parliament would garner a total of 130 seats, 63 seats short of the majority of 163 required to form a government. ...

Source: Al Rafidayn, September 29, 2010
MEMRI's analysis of the news was that Mookie's capitulation wouldn't end the political stalemate:
At the moment there are no candidates or groups prepared to join an al-Maliki/al-Sadr coalition. Al-Iraqiya announced it would not support "a sectarian coalition," meaning a Shi'a based coalition, but it was prepared to concede the position of prime minister to someone from a different faction, provided it is not al-Maliki. The Kurdish Alliance, as well as al-Hakim's Supreme Islamic Council, are on record as saying that they would not support any government that would not include al-Iraqiya, with its Sunni majority. In fact, it is inconceivable that Iraq can attain any measure of stability if the Sunnis remain outside any power constellation.

We foresee the stalemate persisting for awhile longer.
Today came the formal announcement that Mookie had agreed back to Maliki. See the Wall Street Journal report from Steven Lee Myers and the one filed from Baghdad by Sam Dagher and Munaf Ammar for the gory details, which include Washington breathing down everyone's neck to compromise.

It doesn't seem the Obama administration was prepared for Mookie's about-face, considering how long he'd held out against Tehran's pressure. Mookie is staunchly anti-American and gave the Coalition no end of trouble before he had to flee to Iran. But that Tehran would increase the pressure on him is among the many things Team Obama and Congress didn't consider when they lobbied to pile more sanctions against Iran on the theory that Tehran's regime is a potted plant.
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