This latest political news from Iraq is certainly disappointing. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the current interim prime minister has been selected to remain in that post in the first perminent government of Iraq - a four year government. He beat out Adel Abdul Mahdi, the current vice president and fellow Shiite, by an internal vote of 64-63.
This is unfortunate on several counts. First, Jaafari's interim government has been widely seen as ineffective and a bit corrupt. Second, he won this vote only through the full support of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who called for and inspired the bloody 2004 Shiite insurgency against American forces. Third, I attended a speech by Mahdi when he visited CSIS last fall and found him impressive. He is an economist by training and was seen by many as an ideal choice for prime minister since he can more easily garner support from Kurdish and Sunni groups.
On all those measures, it seems there is a tough road ahead for Iraq under a Jaafari government, not least of which is how much the four year government will be dependent on a radical cleric for its most basic support.