Iraq: New political bloc - without Sunnis - announced
Iraq's political leaders emerged Thursday from three days of crisis talks with a new alliance that seeks to save the current government. But the reshaped power bloc included no Sunnis and immediately raised questions about its legitimacy as a unifying force.
Under fire Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hailed the political agreement as a first step toward unblocking the paralysis that has gripped his Shiite-dominated government since it first took power in May 2006. According to the AP, the new Shiite-Kurdish coalition will retain a majority in parliament and apparently have a clear path to pass legislation demanded by the Bush administration, including a law on sharing Iraq's oil wealth among Iraqi groups.
The key disappointment was the absence of Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and his moderate Iraqi Islamic Party.
Al-Maliki was joined at a news conference to announce the political grouping by President Jalal Talabani and fellow Kurd Massoud Barzani, the leader of the northern autonomous Kurdish region; and Shiite Vice President Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi.