Iraq is set to acquire a new government following a power sharing deal, which underscores Iran's growing influence in Baghdad.
Incumbent Prime Minister, Nouri Al Maliki, whose State of Law bloc won 89 seats will continue for a second term in office. With the 70-seat support coming recently from the former rival–turned-ally, Moqtada Al Sadr, Mr. Maliki had already edged close to the mark of 163 seats required to form a new government. Mr. Maliki's tenure for a second term was secured when the Kurdish alliance of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) decided to pool in its 43 seats in favour of the Shia combine.
The Iraqi Parliament that was set to convene on Thursday evening only for a second time since the March 7 elections is expected to pick Osama Al Nujaifi of the Iraqiya party as the Speaker. Addressing the media ahead of the Parliament session, Kurdish leader Massoud Bazani said President Jalal Talabani of the PUK would get a second term in office. Mr. Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya party secured 91seats, will head the Council of Strategic Policy, a new body which apparently can keep a check on the Prime Minister's powers.
Analysts point out that Iran had played a crucial role in forging the united Shia alliance, the key to the formation of the new government.
Tehran successfully persuaded cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, who has been pursuing theological studies in Qom, to back Mr. Maliki. Highlighting on Wednesday his country's influence in the region, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a gathering of war disabled veterans in the city of Kazvin that any major problem arising now in West Asia has to be resolved with Tehran's intervention.
“The oppressor powers know that due to the [importance of] the Middle East [West Asian] region, no issue in the world is beyond the influence of the ideas and the schools of thought initiated in this land [Iran],” state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted the President as saying.
Faced with its de facto marginalisation, the Iraqiya party has decided to back the Shia-Kurdish combination, to form, what appears to be a national unity government. Observers point out that the willingness of some of the factions within the Washington-supported Iraqiya to join the Maliki-led government also forced Mr. Allawi's hand to cooperate.
Writing in the British daily The Independent, columnist Patrick Cockburn notes that Mr. Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni, likely to be appointed Speaker, had already shown his inclination to join the government led by Mr. Maliki, irrespective of Mr. Allawi's disposition towards the Shia-Kurdish alliance. Mr. Nujaifi is a political heavyweight in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and controls 20 seats within Iraqiya.
The Shia-Kurdish assertion is a big blow for the Americans. Mr.
Cockburn points out that the Kurds, who chose Shias as their partners, rebuffed Washington's attempt to elevate Mr. Allawi to the Presidency, in place of Mr. Talabani.