Finally addressing weeks of reports to that effect, the Iraqi National Alliance today confirmed that it has formed an alliance with the State of Law bloc, a move which would appear to give them enough seats to form the next government.
The announcement is somewhat bittersweet for the US, which has been dreading a hung parliament but is now facing the prospect of a government strongly influenced by INA leader Moqtada al-Sadr and with close ties to Iran. At the same time, the cutting out of the secularist Iraqiya and by extension virtually all Sunni voters in the nation, threatens to spark more violence.
Iraqiya, the party of Ayad Allawi which actually got the most seats in the March 7 vote, slammed the announcement as a return to sectarianism and accused Iran of being behind the deal.
Before anyone can form a government, however, a number of legal challenges and a full recount have to be met. This is expected to take several weeks if not several months.
Once that is finally sorted out, the new Shi’ite religious alliance will have to figure out who will be the next prime minister, as State of Law leader Nouri al-Maliki is considered highly unpalatable to many INA members. At the top of the short list of possible replacements would be the INA’s Ibrahim al-Jaafari or State of Law MP Jaafar al-Sadr.