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Final tally: around 58% of eligible Iraqi voters voted. My definition of success was 60%, so that’s a near miss. It’s close enough so that I don’t feel comfortable saying Bush missed that metric, but I wouldn’t say he succeeded either.

The ruling coalition needs 184 votes to reach a 2/3rds majority. The United Iraqi Alliance can reach that easily with the Kurdish parties, and fall just short if it teams up with Allawi’s Iraqi List. That means, in practice, that the UIA can form a weak ruling coalition with Allawi and a strong one with the Kurds. The price of doing business with the Kurds is a mostly independent Kurdish north, possibly including Kirkuk.

Turkey may or may not be willing to put up with that. Turkey also may or may not be able to practically do anything about it, but since the government of Turkey quite accurately sees an independent Kurdistan as a threat to the stability of Turkey, I wouldn’t rule out Turkish troops moving into Iraq. Somewhat alarmist, yes; still, it’s their country and they’ve had Kurdish rebels for decades. Under the imminent threat doctrine, Turkey has the right to take action.

That fact makes me suspect that the UIA is going to go for an all-Shiite coalition along with Allawi. Sistani isn’t dumb; he knows how Turkey would react. On the other hand, that risks pushing the Kurds into rebellion along with the Sunnis. And while the Sunnis have the advantage of access to Saddam’s old weaponry stockpiles, the Kurds have half of Iraq’s natural resources. Touchy situation.

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