Ayad Allawi, the head of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya party, will join the Shiite-led government being assembled by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a spokeswoman said Tuesday, ending months of postelection deal-making.

As part of the deal, Allawi will head a newly created 20-member National Council for Strategic Policies, overseeing security and foreign policy issues. Parliament still must decide how much power to give the new council. The two rivals will make the same annual salary, believed to be at least $360,000.

Aides said Al-Maliki is expected to formally announce the new government on Dec. 23.


The Marine Corps commandant suggested that allowing gays to serve openly in the military could result in more casualties because their presence on the battlefield would pose "a distraction."

"When your life hangs on the line," Gen. James Amos told reporters at the Pentagon, "you don't want anything distracting. ... Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines' lives."

Amos was vague when asked to clarify how the presence of gays would distract Marine combat units during a firefight.

The House will take up a stand-alone bill this week to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" law barring openly gay troops.