Shiites Propose Deal to End Deadlock

The leading Shiite party has proposed a plan that may finally end the electoral deadlock. It includes the stepping aside of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, considered by most observers to be vital to any breakthrough.

Shiite politicians suggested a formula Saturday for replacing their nominee for prime minister to break the deadlock over Iraq’s new unity government, officials said. At least 12 Iraqis died in a car bombing near a Baghdad restaurant and other attacks. Two Shiite officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said the formula called for Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to step aside in favor of another candidate from his Dawa party. In return, the biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, would not push Vice President Adil Abdul-Mahdi for the post, the officials said.

It was unclear, however, whether al-Jaafari — who said as recently as Friday that he wouldn’t step down — had signed off on the plan. It also appeared no agreement was reached by Dawa on a replacement. The incumbent defeated Abdul-Mahdi for the nomination in a vote among Shiite lawmakers in February. Sunni and Kurdish opposition to al-Jaafari has stalled efforts to form a unity government four months after parliamentary elections.

If this goes through, it would certainly be the best news to come out of Iraq since the elections.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.