Will I have to apologize to Bob Blackwill for constantly carping on his Allawi obsession circa 2004-5? We shall see. This is cause for far more genuine nervousness:

Concerns about unrest intensified after Mr. Maliki released a statement last week that said the election commission must respond to demands for a recount in order to prevent “a return of violence.”

The statement pointedly noted that Mr. Maliki remained the country’s commander in chief of the armed forces.

I kept meaning to blog about that statement but things kept getting in my way. Nouri al-Maliki will secure his place in history if he becomes the first non-interim Iraqi leader to willingly relinquish power after the results of an election. (I guess we could debate whether Ibrahim Jaafari counts, but I’m inclined to say no, given the cross-coalition jockeying, abetted by the U.S., was what really removed him, but perhaps that’s ungenerous.) Maliki can look at it this way: he made the country safe enough for people to feel comfortable very narrowly voting for one of his opponents. Perhaps Maliki will prevail, but that will only delay this reckoning.

Update, 3:57 p.m.: State of Law 89 seats, National List 91 seats. Whoa.

“No way we will accept these results,” [Maliki] said on national television. He said he would challenge the results “through the law and courts,” but stressed that his opposition would be “through legal channels to transfer the authority in a peaceful and transparent manner.”

Time to earn your money, Chris Hill.