From Aljazeera, the appointment of Nuri Al-Maliki as prime minister-designate was supposed to hasten the formation of Iraq's "unity government", a process that had been stalled for four months after December's elections. Now Al Maliki has been in place for three weeks ago and talks on the formation of the government are "mired further" as the various factions bicker over cabinet positions:
An influential Shia alliance bloc member has threatened to unilaterally form a new government if rival groups do not scale back their demands.
As the 275-member parliament convened on Sunday, Bahaa al-Araji, a member loyal to the anti-American Shia figure Muqtada al-Sadr, denounced what he said was continued US meddling in the selection of ministers for the coveted interior and defense ministry posts.
He set a deadline of two days before the 130 alliance deputies act unilaterally.
In response, the Sunni faction has issued their own set of threats:
...one member of the three-party Sunni Arab coalition that holds 44 seats in parliament threatening to walk out of the talks and the government.
Salman al-Jumali said: "If we do not get what we deserve, we will end our participation in the political process.
"Our representatives in parliament, and the officials already awarded ministerial posts will withdraw."
Since May 22nd is the deadline for forming the new government:
...al-Maliki may announce a partial cabinet and temporarily retain control of the interior and defense ministries until suitable candidates are agreed upon.
The December election was the last "deliverable" that the Bush administration had at their disposal to show an increasing restive domestic audience that there was "a light at the end of the tunnel" in Iraq. Now we have the resulting government near collapse, Iraqi army units shooting at one another , and another uptick in insurgent violence that has already claimed 41 Coalition soldiers this month. It's hard to imagine any significant draw-down of U.S. forces this year, but it is even harder to imagine their being in Iraq at the end of George W.s second term, given the way public opinion in the U.S. has gone and continues to go.
Either way, the end will be ugly.