- The recent elections have left no clear new government. You need 163 of 325 votes in parliament to form a government. The challenger, Ayad Allawi and his coalition, have 91 seats. The incumbent, Nuri al Maliki has 89 seats. A Shia radical coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance have 70 seats, and the Kurdistan Alliance has 43 seats. The remaining 32 seats are controlled by various smaller parties.
Former prime minister Allawi and and current prime minister Maliki are trying to strike a deal to divide senior government jobs. This sort of thing can take a while, as each man leads a large coalition, and lots of people looking for high ranking jobs. Allawi ran on pledges of reform and clean government, but he also has problems with corruption and dithering. Right now, the security forces are waiting for the new prime minister to decide how hard the army and police should go after the latest outbreak of Sunni terrorism. Al Qaeda, and other Saddam era Sunni diehards, are determined to get a civil war going between the Sunni minority (about 15 percent of the population) and the Shia/Kurd majority. Such a strategy is insane, but so are most of the strategies pursued by the Iraqi Sunni Arabs over the last 70 years. If the Sunni radicals are successful in getting such a conflict going, it would mean the end of the Sunni Arab community in Iraq. Most Sunni Arabs realize this, and are willing to work with the government to hunt down and destroy the terrorists. But a large minority of Sunni Arabs still support the terrorists, and give them sufficient cover to continue operating.
While terrorism activity down 90 percent compared to three years ago, further reductions have been stalled by government reluctance to come down too hard on the Sunni Arab community. Part of this is in deference to Sunni Arab neighbors (everyone except Iran, which is Shia majority). But patience with the Sunni Arab community is coming to an end, or at least a middle.
May 14, 2010: Three suicide bombers attacked a crowd at a soccer game in a Shia area near the Syrian border, leaving 25 dead and over a hundred wounded. Meanwhile, outside Baghdad, four people were killed by a bomb in a Sunni neighborhood. In Baghdad, the recount of the recent elections was finished and found no fraud. The new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq announced that there would be far more attacks. His predecessor was killed last month.
May 13, 2010: In the northern Kurdish controlled area, Iraqi border guard had a half hour gun battle with their Iranian counterparts. There were no casualties. It was later found that the shooting began when Iranian border guards spotted an Iraqi border guard patrol just across the border, and mistook them for Kurdish separatist rebels who have been operating on both sides of the border for years. Iranian troops often fire into Iraq, when they believe the targets are Kurdish separatists. There are Kurds living on both sides of the border up here, as there are on the Turkish border.
May 12, 2010: In a Shia area of Baghdad, a car bomb went off, killing seven.
May 11, 2010: Five bombs went off in Baghdad, Babel, Mosul, Falujah, and Basra, killing over a hundred people.
May 7, 2010: On the Turkish border, Turkish commandos and helicopters pursued PKK Kurdish terrorists who were fleeing across the border. The Turks killed five PKK members. Further south, near Kirkuk, terrorists attacked local security guards, killing four of them.
May 5, 2010: In Baghdad, gunmen killed a prominent Sunni religious scholar.
May 4, 2010: The Maliki and Allawi coalitions have agreed to unite and form a new government. This process is stalled over the inability to agree on who (Maliki or Allawi) will be the prime minister.
May 3, 2010: In Baghdad, police arrested eight members of Ansar al Islam, a Kurdish Sunni Islamic terrorist group.
May 1, 2010: Terrorist deaths last month (328; 274 civilians, 39 policemen and 15 soldiers) were down seven percent compared to April last year (355). Eight American troops died in Iraq last month, most to non-combat causes.