Where is Allawi?
The short answer is London. Most of his Iraqiyya coalition has returned to the parliament, and some of its members are lobbying hard to be included in Maliki’s cabinet. But (secularist, Shia) Allawi has abandoned the field. This leaves the Iraqi secularists, who joined with Sunni Islamists in backing Iraqiyya, without a champion.
The Americans, having lost ground to Tehran in the government formation process, should be starting to invest now in strengthening Iraq’s secularists. Magnificent as his performance was this time around, it can’t be that Allawi is the only bet for three years from now. All of us who talk with Iraqis (and the pollsters) know that there is a deep well of Iraqi nationalist, non-sectarian, secularist sentiment in the country. Now is the time to nurture it.