It looks like Al-Maliki is throwing off the chains and making a power play.
The danger for him is that the US decides some other pliant stooge should replace him. It could be a military coup. The US could decry the coup (as they did in Pakistan) and yet pledge to work with the new dictator (as they did with Musharraf) even though they would have carefully hand-picked him and helped him seize power (as they did with Pinochet and many others). I'm thinking Iyad Allawi with military backing maybe?
I think that's where we are heading. I could be wrong.
Juan Cole suggests it will "all be over with" by January. We can only hope. Certainly things in Washington and Baghdad will be a lot different by then.