I’ll admit that I’d more-or-less stopped paying attention to Iraq, so this surprise result caught me by double-surprise:
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s bloc has won the most seats in Iraq’s parliamentary elections. His coalition had two seats more than that of incumbent PM Nouri Maliki, officials said, in what was seen as a surprise result in the 7 March poll.
Earlier, the UN’s envoy to Iraq described the election as “credible” and urged Iraqis to accept the results.
Mr Allawi will need to form a coalition government as he lacks a majority, amid fears the results may spark violence.
Allawi, you’ll recall, was the America-friendly exile leader who occupation authorities installed as Iraq’s first interim Prime Minister. There was some talk of the idea that the US ought to intervene heavily in the first Iraqi elections to try to manipulate the results in Allawi’s favor and keep the Islamists out. But that course was rejected, and I kind of figured that Allawi was destined for the ash-heap of history. It seems, however, that splits between Maliki’s supporters and followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, combined with revived Sunni participation in the political process, have let him come out ahead.