Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance wins the vote recount, retaining all 54 of the 329 seats it won in the May 12 vote, with the only change being an extra seat for the Conquest Alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary fighters led by Hadi al-Amiri, which remains in second place. This outcome should be confidence building, and is good news for Iraq’s new nationalistic-cum-pluralistic political temper, the country having been sidelined for too long in a sectarian cul-de-sac.
However, tension is growing between two blocs that are forming around al-Sadr/Abadi and that al-Maliki/Amiri as the formation of a government is delayed. There are rumours of active US preparations for confrontation with Iranian-backed groups. Will the battleground with Iran now shift to Iraq? Watch this space.