' “Any government without Iyad Allawi would be a disaster for Iraq, especially for its security,” says Muwafaq al-Rubaie, a former national-security adviser under Mr Maliki. The Sunni insurgency that still persists would get a fillip. Virtually all prominent politicians across the spectrum say that all four of the main alliances—Mr Allawi’s Iraqiya, Mr Maliki’s State of Law group, the Iraqi National Alliance in which Mr Sadr’s people predominate, and the Kurds—should come together, each well represented in a grand coalition.
But the animosity between Sunni and Shia Arabs means it is still uncertain that Mr Allawi will get a senior job, let alone the prime minister’s. Iraqi Shias still feel, after a millennium of being treated as lowlier than the Sunnis despite being a majority, that they deserve the political cake unshared. “They far prefer dealing with a harassing [Sunni] insurgency than with what they see as a lethal fifth column embedded within the state apparatus”, writes Joost Hiltermann of International Crisis Group, a conflict-resolution outfit.
For their part, most Sunni Arabs, who ran the show under Saddam Hussein, doggedly refuse even to admit that they are a numerical minority. There has been no full census since 1987 and precise sectarian data have been unavailable for even longer. But most independent pundits reckon Shia Arabs make up more than half the population, Sunni Arabs less than a quarter, Kurds (most of whom are Sunni) around a fifth, while Turkomans, Christians and others make up the rest.'