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Iraq is a tangled web of competing demands

Iraq's prime minister Maliki has, so far, pulled off a delicate balancing act, juggling the competing demands of the country's ethnic groups, writes Kirk Sowell. But for how much longer?

Iraq's prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has had a steady mantra over the past two years - the need for a "majority government" uniting Iraqis from across the country's three main ethnic groups: the majority Shia and minority Sunni and Kurds. The slogan has replaced one that defined the government formed in December 2010, that of "partnership government". While a patchwork of agreements with rivals secured Maliki's re-election three years ago, it also saddled him with a government that almost immediately became unwieldy and whose failures he attributed to having ministers who, believing themselves really to be in opposition to him, weren't working as a team. Maliki's aim has been to reduce his

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