Bobby Ghosh at Time reports that the Iraqi army in Sunni Arab cities like Falluja has increased its presence. The announcement that Nuri al-Maliki has gained the support of key Shiite factions has greatly increased the likelihood he will serve a second term as prime minister.
The problem is that al-Maliki, a Shiite from the religious Islamic Mission Party or Da`wa, has not been good on reconciling with the Sunnis. Worse, the mostly Sunni-backed Iraqiya Party has reaffirmed that it won’t join an al-Maliki-led government. Sunni Arabs could end up without any cabinet seats or real ministerial power if that stance does not change. In turn, resentments about being marginalized could turn to violence. Hence the extra troops in Fallujah on Saturday.
Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that al-Maliki has 139 seats, with his new Shiite allies from the National Iraqi Alliance. He therefore only needs 24 more members of parliament to join his coalition, giving him a majority of 163 in a parliament of 225 seats. The easiest way to attain the magic number is bring the Kurdistan Alliance, with 43 seats, into the new government. Iraqi Kurds say that al-Maliki is the most congenial for them of the front-runners for the prime minister position.