Although it was certainly marred by violence -- 35-38 dead depending on which counts you believe -- the election in Iraq came off reasonably successfully, at least initially and on the surface. The Sunnis voted in numbers this time, and the two leading coalitions seem to be PM Maliki's State of Law Party and former interim PB Ayad Allawi's Iraqi National Alliance. Though both are Shia, they bill themselves as secular and non-sectarian. As I predicted in my run-up piece no coalition is likely to get enough votes to form a tgovernment, so there is likely to be a period of wheeling and dealing that could take up to several months before a government is formed. If that leads to instability, it could lead to more violence. Let's hope it's resolved with a minimum of bloodshed. Getting U.S. combat troops out on a timely basis could depend on it.
For more background, Marina Ottaway, head of Middle East studies at the Carnegie Endowment, who was very helpful to me in preparing my piece, provides helpful context. Carnegie has been monitoring the Iraqi media -- fiverse and surprisingly free-wheeling -- for onths now.