in a moment of levity
It began as an attempt to isolate radical Shiite leader, Moqtada al Sadr, and create a coalition of Sunni, Kurds and Shia under Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani and, for a while, it seemed to be working. al Sadr seemed to be breaking, talking about returning to the Iraqi government and reining in his Mahdi army.
Then something went wrong. It seems the deal's off. al-Sistani has chosen Shiite unity over national unity.
After being rebuffed by the elderly cleric, government officials went courting to al Sadr. If he returns it won't be as a broken force as the US and governing coalition leaders had hoped. Sadr's support (his movement holds 30-seats in the government) was critical for prime minister al-Maliki, himself a Shia. Without Sadr's votes, Maliki's government was deadlocked and incapable of advancing its legislative agenda.
So long as the Shia remain unified, Iraq remains under their dominion and the Sunni remain increasingly outnumbered and vulnerable. And that's where Saudi Arabia comes in.