Preliminary election results of Iraq's general election are reported by debkafile's Middle East sources as an impressive victory for the incumbent prime minister Nouri Maliki's State of Law Coalition, which was backed by Washington. He has carried nine out of 19 provinces and the capital Baghdad, and looks like commanding around 100 of the 325 seats in parliament.
The Tehran-backed Iraqi National Alliance – INA – led by ex-prime minster Ibrahim Jafari, trailed Maliki with 45-50 seats. Because this alliance was a conglomeration of Iraq's pro-Iranian factions – Moqtada Sadr's radicals, the Dawa group, Amer al-Hakim's supporters and Ahmad Chalabi – Iran faces the loss of significant support in the new Iraqi parliament.
Maliki's foremost contender, ex-prime minister Iyad Allawi and his al-Iraqiya secular alliance of liberal Shiites and Sunni Muslims won 70 mandates. The Saudi royal house and Syrian president Bashar Assad had backed him to the hilt in the hope of unseating Maliki altogether. At the same time, the Allawi grouping is now in line as leading partner in a Shiite-Sunni coalition under Maliki's premiership. A third partner would be the Kurdish bloc lead by president Jalal Talabani and Kurdistan leader Masoud Barzani, which came third with 50 parliamentary seats.
debkafile's Middle East sources report that Washington has good reason to celebrate the Iraqi election's outcome even before the final results are published later this month. A government of these three blocs would not only be pro-American but stable enough to ward off attempts to stir up civil strife.
Our military sources report, with the fear of post-election unrest receding, there is now no reason to slow down the US military departure from Iraq which can proceed up to August according to the timeline laid out by president Barack Obama.
Our sources add: Although voter turnout was 62 percent, down from the previous election, Al Qaeda failed to disrupt the vote despite attacks which killed least 38 and injured dozens on polling day. Although some 500 Sunni candidates were barred from running for alleged ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party, voting in the Sunni-dominated Anbar province was around 61 percent. The highest voter participation – 80 percent – was registered in Kurdistan.