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"Mohammed Al-Diyali," an Iraqi writing pseudonymously, despairs at Iraq's political future:

I'm actually not that convinced that Maliki and his friends really represent Iraqi Shiites in the first place. Maliki and the others like him spent most of their lives in Iran; they have the mindset of the dictatorship in Iran. The problem is not just whether our politicians are Shiites or Sunnis. The problem is whether they actually care about the country they're supposed to be representing. I don't see any sign that they do. They are all incredibly, brazenly corrupt. In this respect, Hashemi, the Sunni politician that Maliki is now trying to arrest, and Talabani, the Kurd leader, are just the same as Maliki and his kind. When I worked with Americans during the war, I spent a lot of time in the government quarter in the Green Zone, and I saw all of our leaders at work. They all tried to spend as little time in Iraq as possible. They often missed sessions of parliament. They all had homes outside the country where they preferred to spend their time. 

Joel Wing is a tad optimistic:

As for the government breakdown, I think Maliki is really pushing this to the limit. The Iraqi National Movement was very divided, with the ministers and other politicians holding office quite happy with what they had, while Iyad Allawi was on the outside left complaining about Maliki, while completely neglecting his job as a lawmaker. Now, Maliki's action has united the list. Almost all the other parties, the Kurdish Coalition, the Supreme Council, and White Iraqiya have all offered to mediate as well, which shows that they are not behind Maliki's stance. The Sadrists appear to be the only ones he can consistently rely upon. I think that places limits on the Prime Minister, but he seems to be committed to this confrontation. In the end, I think there will be some kind of negotiated settlement, but it will leave Maliki and Allawi's National Movement more bitter than ever, which will solidify the dysfunction.

(Photo: Iraqi soldiers stand guard during a celebration marking the the departure of US troops from Iraq in Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighbourhood on December 30, 2011. By Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images.)