Today, there was a story about how Iraqi President Maliki has been sacking senior officers who have been too aggressive on the Shiite militia's like al-Sadr's Mahdi army. This is starting to get old, and it's high time the US started to put more pressure on him. Not just pressure that US forces will leave if there is little political progress, which is useful to a point, but also maybe we need to start talking partition. Democratic presidential Joe Biden is the only one who has seriously pushed this idea, and there certainly are numerous challenges, but as the alternatives dry, it might be a good option to keep pushing if for no reason that to keep Maliki on his toes.
A few thoughts on partition, by the way. The common response is Turkey would never allow an independent Kurdistan, and the rest of the Iraqis wouldn't accept a breakway republic with most of the oil. Maybe so, but as I see it, Turkey has little leverage in this debate - the US could "accept" a Kurdish offer for permanent bases that would deter any Turkish aggression. The oil is trickier, but is precisely why the US needs to start considering this option more seriously - it sends a message to Shiites and Sunnis that a prolonged stalemate could be the equivalent of singing sayanora to their oil riches.