Before the vote was held, I was somewhat skeptical that the voters understood this subtlety -- or that the people elected would confine themselves to this role. It seems I was right. Which is how you get news stories which say things like this:
[Newly chosen President] Jalal Talabani, will be the first Kurd to serve as president of an Arab-dominated country. But immediately after his appointment, tensions among Iraq's political groups erupted, as some Shiite and Kurdish members of the assembly demanded that the interim government resign as soon as Mr. Talabani, 72, is sworn in on Thursday.
That government, led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has infuriated many officials from the main Shiite and Kurdish parties, which will dominate the new administration. They accuse Dr. Allawi, a secular Shiite, of having brought back into the government former senior members of the Baath Party who played key roles in oppressing ordinary Iraqis, especially Shiites and Kurds.
The Kurds want the Kurd to resign? No, they want our puppet, the "secular Shiite", to get out of the way and stop trying to run the country.
And the parliament in general seems to have an idea of its own role very different from ours. As the closest thing Iraq has right now to a legitimately elected representative body, they think they ought to be running the country -- and they are not obviously wrong. Which could get very awkward for us if they also have different ideas about, say, the enduring bases the U.S. military is building in their sovereign country...