Monday, August 24, 2009

Wire: Trouble Brewing in Baghdad; Iraqi Shiite Leaders Form Alliance, Minus Prime Minister

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24, 2009 -- Newswire services this afternoon reported that major Iranian-backed Shiite groups announced a new alliance Monday that excluded the Iraqi prime minister as their candidate for re-election.

The move puts pressure on Nouri al-Maliki to strike a deal with Sunni parties if he hopes to keep his job after January's parliamentary elections.

The Associated Press reported that the announcement came as bombs on two buses exploded, killing at least 11 in southern Iraq. The blasts were just the latest bombings in recent weeks that have raised fears insurgents are trying to stoke sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart two years ago.

The party realignment is a major shift in the Iraqi political scene, breaking up a Shiite coalition that has dominated Iraq's government since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

AP noted the following details:
The new bloc, called the Iraqi National Alliance, will include the largest Shiite party, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, or SIIC, and anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc, which both have close ties to Tehran, as well as some small Sunni and secular parties.

If the alliance does well in the Jan. 16 vote, Tehran could gain deeper influence in Iraq just as U.S. forces begin to withdraw. The last American soldier is scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.
(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Shiite groups form new alliance excluding Iraqi PM

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