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Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (R) with Moqtada al-Sadr. Photo: Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty

Nearly three months since Iraqis went to the polls to cast their ballots in a parliamentary election, a new government is yet to be announced — and the wait might be long.

Where things stand: With no party or bloc able to secure an outright majority in the May 12 vote, political leaders in the country began negotiations over the formation of a governing coalition.The process, however, has been put on hold due to a manual recount of votes that was called on in June following allegations of rigging. As soon as the final results are announced, the blocs will begin scrambling to announce their coalition partners.

  • Uncertainty persists, however, as the two Shia blocs that won the most parliamentary seats in the initial count — the Sairoon Alliance led by Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr and the Fateh bloc led by Hadi al-Amiri — remain at loggerheads.
  • On June 13, Sadr, who opposes Iranian involvement in Iraq, and al-Amiri announced a surprise alliance. But speaking to Al Jazeera, Fateh's spokesperson Ahmed al-Assadi denied that an official partnership with Sairoon had been forged.
  • Analysts say this lack of unity now places the ball in the court of Sunni and Kurdish parties. The decision by these parties over which of the two opposing Shia fronts to join will be crucial in the formation of the majority bloc — and the eventual naming of the country's next prime minister.

Go deeper: Read the full Al Jazeera report.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
28 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.