Iyad Allawi in London is throwing cold water on the idea that a stable Iraqi government is now being formed. According to Reuters he is saying that the original power-sharing formula (presumably the one worked out with the Americans Nov. 6) has collapsed and is “dead.”
He told Reuters, “The formula for power sharing has been distorted and the issue of devolution has been distorted so I am not sure whether a coherent government (can be formed).”
Allawi says he will not serve in the new cabinet himself.
It is unclear that he will accept the proffered role as chairman of the national council for policies, a sort of national Security council. The US has pressed for the formalization of this body, which would require parliamentary legislation, which may not be forthcoming. So it is not clear that the council will actually be made into an institution with real power.
Allawi said that he does not expect the new government to last long if it is formed.
Allawi, an ex-Baathist secularist for whose party, the Iraqiya, some 80 percent of Sunni Arabs voted last March, does not actually sound like the head of a party going into a coalition government. He sounds like someone who was taken for a ride in order to get his assent to the election of Jalal Talabani president, after which he was cut out of the deal.
Since the US made most of its bets on Allawi, if he was cut out of the deal, then so was Washington.
This sort of successful outmaneuvering of the Obama administration by the Iran-backed Shiites and the Kurds is what makes me think it is unlikely that the Americans can actually convince the Iraqi parliament to let any significant number of US troops stay past December, 2011. There will likely be trainers and air force personnel, but Washington’s idea that the Mahdi Army would put up with 15,000 GIs in Iraq in 2012 seems to me a gross miscalculation. I’d fear for a repeat of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut if the administration tried to push through any such measure.