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Iraqi Officials: Progress Made On Coalition Deal

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (left) meets with former Prime Minister and head of the Al-Iraqiyah coalition Iyad Allawi in Baghdad last month.
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi politicians say the two blocs that won the most votes in the March 7 parliamentary elections are edging closer to a deal to form a new government, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Husayn al-Asad, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law bloc, told RFE/RL that "a deal might be reached within the next few days" between State of Law and Al-Iraqiyah that "will end the political crisis caused by the failure to form a new government."

He also insisted that an alliance between State of Law and the Iraqi National Alliance, the other big Shi'ite bloc, is still alive.

Ali al-Adib, a leading State of Law politician, told RFE/RL that his bloc and Al-Iraqiyah had exchanged memos laying out their positions.

He said they were considering a proposal for a National Strategic Policy Council comprising all major factions as well as executive agencies to serve as a decision-making body on long-term economic planning, national security, foreign policy, and national reconciliation.

Adib added that one idea being considered is to bestow a specific legal status on this body by consensus to enable it to carry out crucial functions.

Jamal al-Battikh, a leading Al-Iraqiyah official, told RFE/RL that "indeed State of Law and Al-Iraqiyah are now closer to each other than to any other bloc."

He predicted that "a deal can be announced next week" if an agreement is reached on the proposed council.

Battikh said that surprises were possible at any moment in the next few days, and all kinds of permutations for a ruling coalition are possible, including an Al-Iraqiyah deal with either State of Law, or the two Shi'ite blocs and the Kurdish party together.

Political analyst Asaad al-Ibadi told RFE/RL that the ideal scenario is a deal between State of Law and Al-Iraqiyah as the two biggest factions, which would ensure a comfortable majority in parliament and, by extension, a strong government.