It's not clear, for instance, which of the other Iraqi leaders Maliki is prioritizing in terms of forging political alliances - sometimes reaching out to Sadr, sometimes to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and sometimes to Sunni Awakening leaders. Next week, he'll meet with Massoud Barzani, who is the president of the autonomous Kurdish region.
Shadid seems to imply, at the end of the article, that Maliki has visions of dictatorial power. I guess he doesn't go so far as dictatorial, but he does say "Others see Maliki's ambitions as greater ... 'he has no permanent enemies and no permanent friends.'"
The article, along with an accompanying report about a US helicopter attack on Sunni Awakening soldiers who are ostensibly allied with the US, also raises the issue of a potential fracturing of the cooperation between the Awakening and the US military. However, one prominent member of the Awakening - Abu Risha, who is the brother of its founder - says that the US is right to strike out against members who may not be completely loyal.
177. When is the last time Sadr appeared in public? I cannot remember anything for at least a year or so.
178. How is the Iraqi economy doing? Is it connected at all, to the world economic downturn (oil?), or is it so fragile/new that its ups and downs are independent of developments elsewhere?