This week's piece for Hudson-NY begins with:
Efforts are underway to hold together the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) coalition—the largest Shia bloc in the Iraqi parliament—in preparation for the forthcoming national election set to be held in February 2010. Baghdad’s power brokers seek to keep the coalition from splintering into its various Islamist groups, and to add liberal Shias and independent Sunnis to give it a non-sectarian luster, much like the first incarnation of the coalition that ran in the January 2005 and carried the ballot sheet number ‘169’; this list was officially blessed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani at the time. In fact, the euphemistic term being given to these efforts is being called “resurrecting 169”.Continue reading...
Yet the power brokers are faced with two stumbling blocks: convincing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stay within the UIA, and recruiting credible Sunnis.