Speaking in an interview today with the US-funded Alhurra TV station, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made the rather surprising announcement that he believed that the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc, his chief political rival, would have to be included in a new government.
The comment comes as Maliki’s State of Law bloc is reportedly nearing a deal with the Iraqi National Alliance (INA), one that would have allowed them to form a government without the Allawi-led Iraqiya.
Coming less than 24 hours after the Iranian government gave its formal support for including the Iraqiya bloc, the comment was likely a conciliatory move on the prime minister’s part after weeks of bitter fighting, which included Maliki arresting some of the winning MPs from Iraqiya.
But exactly what it will lead to is unclear. Allawi has repeatedly rejected the notion of a “grand unity” coalition, noting that the previous version was ineffective and divided. It seems he may not have another choice, but considering the resentment and diverse positions of all the major blocs, the unity government is going to struggle to find much it can agree upon.