On November 25, the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani formally nominated Nouri al Maliki for a second term as prime minister. And so Mr al Maliki began the difficult task of forming Iraq's next government - eight months after millions of Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections.
Mr al Maliki has 30 days to present his cabinet to Parliament for approval, or else he could lose the nomination. It is not certain that he can meet the deadline because he is trying to cobble together a government out of political factions that are distrustful of him and one another. Unfortunately, the recent compromise that granted Mr al Maliki another term provides little hope that Iraqis will be able to govern themselves without falling prey to political deadlock, proxy battles and foreign interference.
At first, Mr al Maliki will have to divvy up positions to satisfy the political partners that kept him in power. Under pressure from Iran, the anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr finally agreed to support Mr al Maliki's bid for a second term on October 1, the day that Iraq surpassed the world record - 207 days - for the time between a parliamentary election and the formation of a government. With Mr al Sadr's support, Mr al Maliki was able to reach a deal with other factions, especially the Kurds. That allowed Mr al Maliki to secure a majority in the 325-seat parliament, which is necessary to approve a new cabinet.