Just as Iraq's political impasse looked to be unending, a breakthrough came. On the day it surpassed the record - 207 days - for the time between a parliamentary election and the formation of a government, the country learned that its next administration will almost certainly be led by the prime minister now in office, Nouri al-Maliki. Mr. Maliki finally won the endorsement of the radical Shiite Sadrist movement, with which he went to war just two years ago. That unlocked a frenzy of maneuvering that most likely will lead, in a few weeks or months, to a government encompassing all of the country's major factions, including Sunnis and Kurds.
Iraqis have a penchant for rescuing their fragile democratic political system just when it appears doomed. The result has been a painful but steady crawl away from war and toward greater prosperity and stability. Dire predictions have yet to come true. Nor has Iran, or any other of Iraq's neighbors, managed to impose its will on the country. The Sadrist party is close to Tehran; but Mr. Maliki has demonstrated his independence, as have other parties likely to be brought into the government.
The long delay has had costs, and those will mount until a final deal is struck. Key development projects are delayed; important legislation is on hold; foreign investors remain cautious. But Iraq has continued to function during the interregnum. Mr. Maliki, who has been in office since 2006, oversees a functioning government. Oil production has remained steady, and the security forces continue to fight al-Qaida and the lingering insurgency.
Congress, meanwhile, should reconsider its foolish moves to slash funding for the training of Iraqi security forces and State Department operations. at a critical moment due to congressional weariness. Iraq would be a terrible place to repeat the error.
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