Eight months after the country went to the polls, Iraqi politicians have reached a tentative deal to form a government. The Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance has agreed to support a unity government headed by Nouri al-Maliki, who will return for a second term as prime minister, the New York Times reports. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani will remain as president under the pact, although the role of Iraqiya leader and former prime minister Ayad Allawi in the new government has yet to be determined.
Members of Iraq's parliament are expected to meet today, for only the second time since the election, to confirm the new pact. The Obama administration, fearing a return to widespread sectarian conflict, had long urged Iraqi lawmakers to settle their differences and form a unity government. Analysts, however, believe that the new coalition will prove unwieldy. "You’re not going to have an effective government in Iraq anytime soon," said a program director at the International Crisis Group.