AFTER tortuous negotiations lasting nine months Iraq has a government. It would be nice to be able to congratulate the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, on forming an administration and to offer him optimistic best wishes for the work that lies ahead. Unfortunately, however, even Mr Maliki does not seem to be pleased with what he has done and is pessimistic about the future. “Given the circumstances it has been created under,“ he said at the swearing-in of ministers,“ the government does not satisfy the people nor the needs of our country.” His difficulties were underlined by the fact although he has named
29 new ministers the important posts of defence, interior and national security have not yet been filled.

President Obama sent congratulations on the formation of “an inclusive partnership government”; the United States still has a great deal riding on a successful government in Iraq. But the issues it faces include continuing insurgent attacks that kill hundreds of people every month, massive unemployment and an infrastructure that still cannot deliver basic public services. Add the independent-minded Kurds, the resurgent Sadrists and the reluctant Sunnis -- and Mr Maliki's pessimism is understandable.


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