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22 April 2006

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It seems that the Daawa-Sadr block played hardball and won. al-Maliki seems no different in that he owes Syria and Iran for harboring him during his decades in exile and he is an ardent Islamist. At the end of the day what all this wrangling has demonstrated is that hardline Shia elements are not going to share that much power. al-Maliki already has stated that he wants to legitimize Shia militias by giving them official cover and paychecks by incorporating them into govt security forces. It seems they have also successfully sidelined all the neo-Baathist elements including Allawi (the neocon favorite).

Will violence and the insurgency subside? If I had to guess all the major factions are preparing themselves for a power grab conflict. And the ex-Baathists now relegated to the sidelines will play spoiler perhaps with covert US support. However, if the Shia alliance work in concert it is possible over time they will dominate the landscape and suppress the insurgency in their majority areas. The open questions are when do the Kurds decide they need to grab Kirkuk; how long can the Shia be united; who will support the Sunni Baathists; what will Iran & Syria consider the best outcome?

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