Kerry in Iraq Backs Government

(Reuters) -
Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad from a helicopter Wednesday. (REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool)
Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad from a helicopter Wednesday. (REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/Pool)

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday endorsed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s plans to mend Baghdad’s relations with Sunnis and Kurds, and said Iraq was a partner in the fight against Islamic State terrorists.

Kerry, on a tour of the Middle East to build military, political and financial support to defeat the terrorists controlling parts of Iraq and Syria, said: “We all have an interest in supporting the new government of Iraq.”

“The coalition that is at the heart of our global strategy I assure you will continue to grow and deepen in the days ahead … because the United States and the world will simply not stand by to watch as ISIL’s evil spreads.” he said, using an alternative acronym for Islamic State.

Abadi faces multiple crises, from the need to convince the Sunnis they should stand with Baghdad against Islamic State to persuading minority Kurds not to break away and convincing his own majority Shi’ites he can protect them from Sunni hardliners.

It will be hard to placate all the forces in Iraq. On Wednesday, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, head of a powerful Shi’ite movement, said Iraq should not cooperate with “occupiers,” a reference to the United States. Sadr’s opinions hold sway over tens of thousands of people.