Though the coalition between the State of Law bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) is the presumptive next government of Iraq, they have yet to settle on a new prime minister. But the current PM, Nouri al-Maliki, is likely the frontrunner today after reports from political insiders that he had won the endorsement of the Iranian government.
Maliki had made many enemies both within his own bloc and with the Moqtada al-Sadr led INA, and while there were reports that the INA would acquiesce in return for Maliki releasing some Sadr followers from prison, there was nothing firm, and many reports that Jaafar al-Sadr, the MP with the State of Law’s second largest majority, was being groomed as a compromise candidate.
The terms of the alliance between the two Shi’ite blocs gave the Najaf Marja’Iya, a religious council, “binding” powers to issue government edicts, so the Iraqi Prime Ministership isn’t as powerful as it once was.
The formalizing of Shi’ite religious power in the Iraqi government also likely makes the Iranian government’s endorsement that much more valuable to Maliki, as they too have a government dominated by Shi’ite religious leaders. Though Maliki and Iran were seen to have a somewhat mixed relationship in the past, the endorsement could well make the Iraqi PM beholding to his influential neighbor for his position.
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