In a sudden development, a ruling bloc is formed in the Iraqi parliament

A meeting between representatives of 11 parliamentary parties, most notably al-Sa’iroun (or the “Alliance of Revolutionaries for Reform”  with 54 seats*, headed by Muqtada al-Sadr, comprising the Sadrist Movement and the Communist Party,  Haidar el-Abadi‘s “Victory Alliance” (or “Tahaluf el-Nasr”)  with 42 seats*, Iyad Allawi‘s National Alliance (or “al-Wataniyya”, the party closest to US interests)  with 22 seats*, and Ammar el-Hakim, ex-ally of el-Abadi, and his National Wisdom Movement 19 seats*, among others have formed a bloc of 162 deputies that will be able to nominate a prime minister.

Iraqi sources expect others to join the bloc before the parliamentary session Monday morning. The new bloc visibly excludes the parties led by Nouri el-Maliki and Hadi el-Amiri , the politicians closest to Iran. It is a significant indication of the increased pressures applied in the Iraqi political scene that there have been tensions between el-Abadi and Tehran over the application of US anti-Iranian sanctions in Iraq, although el-Abadi has said that this will be limited to restricting trade in any goods denominated in US dollars. Still, his position has meant that Tehran cancelled meetings due with el-Abadi in Tehran this week. El-Abadi visited Ankara, however, which has adopted the policy of ignoring US anti-Iranian sanctions.