Early returns from Saturday's provincial polls suggest that the Shiite prime minister's Dawa Party will be the big winner.
Polls open throughout most of the country for a provincial election that could shift the balance of power.
The Sunni insurgent group may strike back, but Iraq experts say it's unlikely they will ever achieve the level of power they once wielded.
Violence has plummeted and US forces are pulling back, but the year ahead will test the staying power of gains throughout the country.
Thousands of protesters are calling for the release of journalist Mundtadhar al-Zeidi.
Bilal Abdulla received life in prison for a 2007 attack on the Glasgow airport and a foiled plot against a London nightclub.
While President Bush traveled to Baghdad Sunday to hail progress, the war is far from over in places like Mosul where US and Iraqi forces still battle insurgents linked to Al Qaeda in Iraq.