John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State on Friday visited Iraq to express his support for its PM who’s grappling with a collapsing economy, a political crisis and a combat to retake the ground from IS militants.
PM Haider al-Abadi last week disturbed Iraq’s political elite with a future cabinet reshuffle aiming to curb the rooted corruption by replacing the long-time politicians with academics and technocrats.
His intend was to free Iraqi ministries from the grasps of a political class that used system of ethnic & sectarian quotas introduced after invasion led by the United States in 2003 to amass wealth & influence.
The officials of the United States dread that the political unrest may damage Iraq’s struggles to retake territory it’s lost to the IS militants, particularly its 2nd city of Mosul, that was seized when the parts of Iraqi army had collapsed in 2014.
“This’s obviously a very critical time here in Iraq,” said Kerry as he initiated a meeting with Ibrahim al-Jaafar, the Foreign Minister at his villa in Baghdad.
Later he met with Abadi, who overlooked a U.S. reporter’s yelled question about whether he sought Washington to arrange more troops to Iraq. US, that withdrew its forces from Iraq in 2011, has redistributed several thousand troops as a part of a coalition it’s leading against IS.
Announcing Kerry’s visit, John Kirby, the spokesperson of US State Department said that the trip “will underscore our strong support for Iraqi Govt. as it addresses significant security, economic & political challenges.”
In past 2 weeks, the Iraqi forces supported by the U.S.-led coalition air strikes retook the significant parts of Hit, a town 130 kilometres north-west of Baghdad.
Nevertheless, an offensive billed as 1st phase of a campaign to take back the northern city of Mosul has been put on a halt until the reinforcements reach to hold ground, said the commander of operation.
“Political wrangling in Iraq – it is certainly an issue that concerns us,” said a senior U.S. official before Kerry flew to Iraq.
Kerry plans to “encourage Iraqis, while they are dealing with the cabinet reshuffle, not to lose sight of the need to stay focused on fight against IS.,’’ he said, emphasizing the need “to plan steadily & carefully” to reclaim Mosul.