New York Times

: BAGHDAD, Iraq — Shiite lawmakers decided by a one-vote margin on Sunday to retain Ibrahim al-Jaafari as prime minister in Iraq’s next government, after a bitter internal struggle that exposed the growing power of anti-American fundamentalists within the new Parliament.

As the largest single bloc in the Parliament, the Shiites have the right to choose a prime minister under Iraq’s Constitution, and they will now begin negotiating with the leaders of other political groups to fill out Iraq’s first full-term, four-year government.

Mr. Jaafari, a moderate Islamist, has been widely criticized as a weak leader over the past year and was considered a long shot to continue in his post. But he defeated his main rival by 64 to 63 in a vote of members of the Shiite bloc on Sunday morning after gaining support from followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the renegade Shiite cleric who is outspoken in his hostility to the United States. | story

Truthdig says: The largely ineffectual interim leader is now set to take formal control of the country. He is backed by theocratic Shiites in Iran, and the rabidly anti-American cleric Moktada al-Sadr in Iraq. A theocratic state, virulently hostile to U.S. interests? Right now even Ahmad Chalabi is starting to look good in comparison.

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