The AP reports on some big news: "The Iraqi prime minister and president announced a new alliance of moderate Shiites and Kurds in a push to save the crumbing government Thursday, saying a key Sunni bloc refused to join but the door remained open to them [...] Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the new agreement was the first step to unblock political stagnation that has gripped his Shiite-led government since it first took power in May 2006." In fact, though, there's nothing to it. Eric Martin says: "So it's not necessarily a new alliance, just the remnants of the old alliance with a generous application of glitzy lipstick."

I don't actually see any lipstick here. This is the same coalition of SCIRI (now with a new name, though) and Dawa that's been running the show ever since Iyad Allawi got tossed. They also have the parliamentary votes of the Kurdish parties in exchange for the government permitting de facto autonomy for a Kurdistan run by those two parties. Sunnis and Sadrists alike will regard the central government as a Kurdish-American plot to destroy the country and violence will continue. Insofar as the central government ever does get close to consolidating power, that'll just expose the simmering tensions inside the rump coalition -- the looking Kirkuk referendum is an obvious potential flashpoint.

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