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Flag of Iraq
  1. Iraq Main Page
  2. Iraq Gains Independence
  3. Rise of the Baath Party
  4. Saddam Hussein's Ascendancy Brings Series of Wars
  5. The UN Steps In With Sanctions and Weapons Inspections
  6. The U.S. Launches War in Iraq
  7. With No Evidence of Weapons in Iraq, Bush Calls Iraq the Focal Point of War on Terror
  8. War Does Little to Improve Infrastructure or Security in Iraq
  9. Insurgency Gathers Steam
  10. Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government
  11. U.S. Strategy Under Fire
  12. President Bush Hopes Surge of U.S. Troops Will Change Course of War
  13. Iraqi Parliament Gets Down to Business
  14. Iraqi Government Shows Signs of Stability
  15. U.S. Role Diminishes in Iraq
  16. Political Veterans Fare Well in Parliamentary Elections
  17. War in Iraq Is Officially Over
  18. Political Unrest and Violence Continue
Iraqi Leadership Struggles in Effort to Form a Government

In Aug. 2005, after three months of fractious negotiations, Iraqi lawmakers completed a draft constitution that supported the aims of Shiites and Kurds but was deeply unsatisfactory to the Sunnis. In October, the constitutional referendum narrowly passed, making way for parliamentary elections on Dec. 15 to select the first full-term, four-year parliament since Saddam Hussein was overthrown. In Jan. 2006, election results were announced: the United Iraqi Alliance—a coalition of Shiite Muslim religious parties that had dominated the existing government—made a strong showing, but not strong enough to rule without forming a coalition. It took another four months of bitter wrangling before a coalition government was finally formed. Sunni Arab, Kurdish, and secular officials continued to reject the Shiite coalition's nomination for head of state—interim prime minister al-Jaafari, a religious Shiite considered a divisive figure incapable of forming a government of national unity. The deadlock was finally broken in late April when Nuri al-Maliki, who, like Jaafari, belonged to the Shiite Dawa Party, was approved as prime minister.

On Feb. 23, Sunni insurgents bombed and seriously damaged the Shiites' most revered shrine in Iraq, the Askariya Shrine in Samarra. The bombings ignited ferocious sectarian attacks between Shiites and Sunnis. More than a thousand people were killed over several days, and Iraq seemed poised for civil war. Hope in Prime Minister Maliki's ability to unify the country quickly faded when it became clear that he would not abandon his political ties with Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who led the powerful Madhi militia. Maliki seemed unwilling or incapable of reining in the rapidly proliferating Shiite death squads, which have kidnapped, tortured, and murdered thousands of civilians.

Next: U.S. Strategy Under Fire
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