Iraqiya, State of Law Break Off Coalition Talks, Trade Condemnations

US Push for Deal Collapses as Clergy Presses for Sistani to Interfere

Yet another of the seemingly endless “last ditch” efforts to form a coalition government in Iraq has failed, as US-brokered talks between Iraqiya and State of Law fell apart today following a public condemnation by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Ayad Allawi

Maliki’s State of Law bloc came in a close second in the election behind rival Ayad Allawi’s secularist Iraqiya bloc, but as neither seems to be able to attract the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) to their side, it is looking increasingly unlikely that a government will be formed at all from the March 7 vote.

The Iraqiya bloc has announced that it will not accept additional talks with State of Law unless Maliki apologizes for his condemnations and publicly admits that Iraqiya is a “secular” bloc, and not a Sunni bloc, as he claimed in the past. Though the bloc has attracted considerable Sunni support its leader, Ayad Allawi, is a Shi’ite.

Maliki’s bloc has attempted to use the Sunni majority makeup of Iraqiya to spin them as a new Ba’athist Party, and they have attempted to ban large numbers of their candidates as “Ba’ath sympathizers.”

But with the seeming lack of any coalition governments emerging from months of bickering, increasingly Shi’ite religious leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani is coming under pressure from his aides to impose a solution. President Obama has reported also sent Sistani a letter calling for him to “settle” the split election, though it seems that the results of this would almost certainly be to bring Iraq more in line with neighboring Iran as a Shi’ite Islamic Republic dominated by the clergy.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.