The Iraq parliamentary elections were held back on March 7. The elections were notable for having the first participation of large numbers of Sunnis, and for having the first participation of the Sadrist block.
Al-Iraqiyya list and Ayad Allawi, a secular Shi'a and Sunni coalition, won with 91 seats.
The State of Law Coalition, tied tightly to Shi'a Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Dawa party, came in a close second with 89 seats.
The National Iraqi Alliance, a Shi'a fundamentalist coalition including Sadrists, came in third with 70 seats.
The Kurdistan Alliance came in fourth, with 43 seats.
Choosing a Prime Minister involves wrangling out a coalition.
The process for parliamentary coalition building in Iraq includes a period of assassinations, disappearances, and bombings. This process has been going on since the March election, and the election-related sectarian violence has recently heated up.
Last Saturday, negotiations to keep U.S. choice, current Prime Minister, and second place finisher Nouri al-Maliki fell apart.
The followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, who form a king-making bloc in the next Iraqi government, have confirmed they will not accept Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki's candidacy for a second term as leader.
The move effectively ends the career of the US-backed incumbent.
Ramadan begins on Wednesday. Withdrawal of our combat troops is scheduled by the end of this month.
Foreign Policy reports that Barack Obama sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, asking for help in resolving the election.
President Obama has sent a letter to Iraq's top Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urging him to prevail upon Iraq's squabbling politicians to finally form a new government, an individual briefed by relatives of the reclusive religious leader said Thursday.
The Sistani-linked source said the letter was sent shortly after Vice President Joseph Biden visited Baghdad over the July 4 weekend and failed to bring about a resolution of the dispute.
At times of political crises, Iraq's clergy have proven to be useful; it was Ayatollah Sistani who pushed for the landmark open-voting system in the parliamentary elections, much to the dismay of Iraq's politicians but to the delight of their constituents; and it was Sistani who intervened, with positive results, on key democratic and constitutional issues, as well as the US-Iraq status of forces agreement.
The clerical establishment, however, has been careful to not get its hands dirty.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has only intervened twice in politics since the US invasion of Iraq. Once he called for a new constitution and one time he broke up fighting between American troops and populist leader Moqtada al-Sadr.
Now we may need him a third time.
There was no immediate comment from the White House.
U.S. media often discusses all the various sectarian and election-related violence in terms of "al-Qaeda in Iraq," a thing that does not exist.
Figures from the Iraqi health, defence and interior ministries show 396 civilians, 89 policemen and 50 soldiers were killed, with another 1,043 people left wounded.
Iraq violence 'worst in two years', Al-Jazeera English
Iraqi and US authorities dispute the number of recent Iraqi deaths. Baghdad said July was the deadliest month for more than two years. The US military said 222 Iraqis died in July, while Baghdad put the figure at 535.
US disputes upsurge in Iraq violence, Sydney Morning Herald
The killing of five policemen in Baghdad on Tuesday came as President Barack Obama vowed again to fulfill an agreement with the Iraqi government to lower US troop levels from 80,000 to 50,000 by the end of August.
Iraq violence flares as US begins to draw down troop levels, Christian Science Monitor
Iraqi authorities say at least three people were killed Friday and at least 28 others wounded in roadside blasts in Baghdad.
The shootings raise to at least six the number of traffic policemen killed since Tuesday in the capital city. Police and health officials said at least seven traffic officers have been wounded during the same period of time in Baghdad.
Baghdad Hit by Multiple Bombings, Voice of America
Kadhimiya ... al-Khadraa ... near Haifa street.
Gunmen stormed a Baghdad money exchange and killed three people Thursday, the latest in recent brash daylight attacks on banks, financial and trade centers in the Iraqi capital, many of which have been blamed on insurgents.