"Iraq's political system is increasingly characterized by peaceful competition and formation of cross-sectarian alliances. However, ethnic and sectarian political and sometimes violent infighting continues, often involving the questionable use of key levers of power and legal institutions. This infighting--and the belief that holding political power may mean the difference between life and death for the various political communities--significantly delayed agreement on a new government that was to be selected following the March 7, 2010, national elections for the Council of Representatives (COR, parliament). With U.S. diplomatic help, on November 10, 2010, major ethnic and sectarian factions agreed on a framework for a new government, breaking the long deadlock. The agreement, under which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is serving a second term, was implemented when a broad-based cabinet was confirmed on December 21, 2010."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21968