Analysis: Lack of political leadship puts Iraq at risk
This weekend's bombings follow a recent pattern of targeted attacks on members of the country's large minority Sunni community,
A number of Sunni politicians have been killed during the latest surge in violence, as well as commanders in the Awakening Councils. Yesterday, the militia's footsoldiers were the victims.
The difficulty comes in discerning whether the attacks are perpetrated by militants who adhere to the extreme Sunni creed of al-Qaeda, which can never accept co-government with the "apostate" Shia majority, or whether they are committed by those who feel the Shia chips are stacked against them to the extent they have no choice but to fight.
Even if that means killing their own on the grounds they are collaborators.
What is clear if that Iraq's lack of coherent government is not helping. The country's political parties have been deadlocked since an inconclusive March election, over who should form the coalition government and serve as prime minister and president. Iraq's parliament has met once, for 18 minutes on 14 June, since the stalemate began.
The two leading politicians who emerged from the 7 March parliamentary elections are Ayad Allawi, who heads the Iraqiya list, and Nuri al-Maliki, whose alliance finished close behind. Allawi's coalition won two more seats than Maliki's, but neither came away with a mandate to form a government.
Candidates loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose militia fought the Americans in the early days of the Iraq war, also won an influential bloc of seats.
Maliki has seemed close to forming a coalition with the Sadrists — but the bottom line now seems to be that Sadr's people do not want him as the country's leader.
Suspicion runs that this position is taken at the direction of Iran. Sadr is thick with Tehran and Maliki may be seen as tainted by his association with the Americans. Just as importantly, Allawi, also a Shia, ran a secular campaign and received a good proportion of votes from the Sunni community.
They now perceive that although their man won the most seats, he is to be denied power in a stitch-up with Iran in the driving seat.
In six weeks' time the US military aims to have pulled out a large number of its combat troops and plans to have nearly everyone gone by the end of next year. That security vacuum could be filled with the sound of explosions and gunfire.
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