The two major political parties remain stalemated, eight months after the new parliamentary elections. This inability to compromise is a problem throughout the region, and it has crippled the Iraqi government. Current prime minister Nuri al Maliki is trying to put together a coalition that would enable him to form a new government. Former prime minister Iyad Allawi (whose Iraqiya party has a small plurality in parliament) insists that the constitution gives only him the right to form a government. Broadly speaking, Maliki is seen by his enemies as too pro-Shia and too willing to work with Shia radials and Iran. Allawi is seen as too secular and too willing to work with the hated Sunni Arab minority (who have done most of the killing in the last sixty years). But both men are very much Iraq nationalists, and each believes only they can lead Iraq to a better future. While Maliki has broad support among Shia (who are over 60 percent of the population), Allawi has the rest (mainly the Kurds and Sunni Arabs), as well as the large number of secular Shia. The key block here is the Kurds, who are united, independent minded, and control about 18 percent of the seats in parliament. But the Kurds want more autonomy and control over oil in their territory. This offends the Arabs, who are 80 percent of the population. Iraq has turned into just another Arab dictatorship, where the inability to compromise eventually leads to one man, or one party, rule, maintained by terror and force. Meanwhile, the members of parliament collect large paychecks for doing nothing, and popular anger is growing against the ineffective politicians.
Sunni Arab groups continue to make targeted attacks on police and their commanders. The terrorist groups are increasingly using crime to finance their operations. This includes large scale raids on banks and jewelry markets. Dozens are killed or wounded in these robberies.
The government has been firing many of the Sunni Arab men who were hired away from pro-al Qaeda militias three years ago. This was an American operation, which a lot of Shia Iraqis were not enthusiastic about. The Sunni Arab minority is much hated by the majority (over 80 percent are Kurds or Shia Arabs) of Iraqis and there is a growing desire to simply kill or expel all the Sunni Arabs. The Sunni Arab terrorists continue their attacks on Shia Arabs and Kurds in the hope of triggering such a response. This is supposed to bring neighboring Sunni states into Iraq to rescue the Iraqis Sunnis and, it is hoped, restore them to power. There is unlikely to be a restoration, or even a rescue. But such illusions have more weight in this part of the world, and these things usually end badly.
November 2, 2010: Sunni Arab terrorists made fifteen attacks in Baghdad, killing 76 and wounding over 200.
November 1, 2010: Prime minister Nuri al Maliki visited Iran, apparently to obtain more support in his effort to form a minority government in Iraq. Most Iraqis are not happy with Iran influence in Iraq, mainly because of the ancient animosity between Semitic Arabs and Indo-European Iranians and Kurds.
October 31, 2010: In Baghdad, al Qaeda gunmen entered a Christian church and killed 58 people, including three priests. Al Qaeda later declared that Christians were legitimate targets and should all be killed or driven out of the country. Such threats are nothing new, and have been getting worse for over a century. Christians are only 2-3 percent of the population, while a century ago they were over ten percent. The latest attack was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq, a coalition of most of the Sunni Islamic terror groups operating in Iraq.
October 29, 2010: North of Baghdad, in Balad Ruz, a Sunni Arab suicide bomber attacked a crowded café and killed 30 men. Most of the dead were Kurds.
October 26, 2010: Saddam Hussein's long time foreign minister, Tarik Aziz, has been convicted (of aiding mass murder against Shia) and sentenced to death. Aziz is a Christian, as were many key Saddam supporters. It's common in the Middle East for a tyrant to recruit minorities, who are less likely to betray him because they, as minorities, need a friend at the top.