The Obama Administration is keen to insinuate itself into Iraq’s newest war, but while previous indications were that action could come at any moment, the recent US assessments that Baghdad was not in imminent danger of falling to al-Qaeda has them holding off, trying to coax a reform deal out of the Maliki government.
Now US officials insist the administration is going to hold off on direct intervention until they see “clear signs” of government reforms, and a broad power-sharing deal for the new government, which is supposed to be agreed on in the next few weeks.
How they imagine that happening is unclear, as with a good chunk of the country gone post-election coalition building seems to be the least of the Maliki government’s concerns, and even if they did seek to comply with the US, it isn’t clear who they’d build coalitions with.
That’s because the reality is that the Iraq drawn on the map doesn’t even exist anymore in any real way. There’s little chance of making “coalition” deals with Sunni MPs whose districts are already lost, and with the Kurds half way out the door to secession they’re probably not eager to be sold on promises by Maliki, made under duress and likely to be ditched at the first opportunity.
In the end the US likely doesn’t care so much about reform as the appearance of reform, and as with their ramshackle “unity government” negotiated after Iraq’s last election, the administration is likely just looking for anything post-election they can paint as “reform” to justify what is sure to be an unpopular US military involvement.