Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was confirmed to begin his second term in office following a record 8+ months under a caretaker government, but even has he was being approved the delicate coalition government was creaking under the pressure of a growing number of fissures, and questions remain whether Maliki will be able to sustain a government for a full term.
The Iraqiya bloc, the largest single faction in the new government, is already facing calls from top members to withdraw from the coalition, following claims that Maliki has already reneged on the “deal” which brought them on board.
“They stabbed us in the back,” insisted Saleh al-Mutlaq, one of Iraqiya’s top members who was banned by Maliki from even participating in the last election under allegations that he was a “Ba’athist.” Most of Iraqiya’s MPs walked out on the parliament’s first session after Maliki’s bloc refused to allow a vote to restore banned members’ rights to run for office.
Though the exact terms of the behind-closed-doors deal was not released, officials said it included restoration of banned Iraqiya members, the position of parliament speaker, and the appointment of Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi to the head of the Political Council of Strategic Policies. This last office is also at issue, as Iraqiya members say the government has yet to give the council any duties or powers.
Maliki will also likely face a battle among members of his own State of Law bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance over cabinet posts, expected to be submitted in 30 days. While Iraqiya is already threatening to withdraw within 30 days, the loss of members of these blocs could topple the government entirely and force a new election, raising the distinct possibility that Maliki’s second term won’t last as long as the interim period between the election and swearing in.