Abrupt changes of heart do happen in politics, and proportional-representation parliamentary systems routinely produce strange political bedfellows. But given the rancor between al-Maliki and the Sadrists, it’s hard to imagine their coalition lasting very long. It’s not yet clear what concessions al-Maliki has promised the Sadrists in exchange for their support, but they will no doubt include several Cabinet positions. The last time the cleric’s nominees held national office (in al-Maliki’s ’06 Cabinet), they were incompetent even by Iraqi standards. The scariest rumor in Baghdad tonight is that al-Sadr has demanded one of the two Security Ministries: Defense or Interior. The prospect of a representative from the Mahdi Army, notorious for its sectarian violence against Sunnis, overseeing either the Iraqi military or its police force will hardly reassure the Obama Administration, which has been pushing hard for an end to the political stalemate in Baghdad but also seeks stability. This may be a case of being careful what you wish for: al-Sadr is vehemently anti-American and has drawn close to Iran since he moved to the holy city of Qom in 2007, apparently to pursue religious studies that will eventually make him an ayatullah.