By Alice Fordham, LAT: "Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya party won the most seats in Iraq's elections last year, has refused to head a long-planned strategic council in parliament, saying Thursday that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has broken promises about its role.
In an interview on Iraqi TV, Allawi alleged that he was being watched by intelligence services and said that he would not head the proposed National Council for Strategic Policies. The council, backed by the United States, was conceived as a counterweight to the power of the prime minister to end the months-long deadlock on forming a government.
A secular Shiite politician whose bloc won the backing of the majority of Iraq's Sunni Arabs, Allawi was persuaded to head the council within a government headed by his rival Maliki. The collapse of the deal threatens a fragile power-sharing agreement which is the basis of the government and which took nine months to reach after elections in March."