The Tightrope Walker

Few politicians owe as much to another country's government as Nouri al-Maliki owes to the Bush Administration. In April, strong U.S. backing catapulted al-Maliki into his job as Iraq's Prime Minister after a two-month impasse over the nomination of his predecessor, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Sunni and Kurdish politicians say U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad leaned heavily on them to back al-Maliki. "Khalilzad made it clear there was only one man on Washington's wish list," a senior Kurdish leader told TIME on condition of anonymity. "Al-Maliki cannot have any doubts about why he got the job."

And so it was slightly surprising last week...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!