The Wall Street Journal quotes Rafik Hariri Center Senior Fellow Ramzy Mardini on the five potential successors to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:

A neurosurgeon by training, Mr. Allawi is a politically secular Shia with close ties to Sunnis. The U.S. appointed Mr. Allawi interim prime minister in 2004, and he led the country for almost a year, but the U.S. chose to back Mr. Maliki over Mr. Allawi in the 2010 election. Mr. Allawi’s political party won the most seats in the 2010 election, but he failed to form a government after some of Iraq’s Shiite and Kurdish parties backed Mr. Maliki. He also faces the key problem of Iranian opposition, a main reason Mr. Maliki emerged as the alternative, said Ramzy Mardini,  an Atlantic Council fellow based in Jordan.

To many Iraqis, Mr. Allawi is seen as closely associated with the U.S. and the CIA,said Kenneth Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Still, he appeals to educated, middle-class Iraqis, whose vision of progress for the country aligns with America’s goals, Mr. Pollack said. But Mr. Mardini said that his managerial style is considered “ineffective and non-inclusive,” and said some view him as “Iraq’s smartest and laziest man.”

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