When Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the latest US deployment of ground troops into Iraq, he set in motion a chain reaction within Iraq’s political leadership that has other US officials scrambling to protect PM Hayder Abadi’s increasingly precarious situation.
Abadi was quick to object to the US deployment, and it’s clear why. A huge number of Shi’ite militias, many of them hugely politically powerful, are blasting the deployment and demanding the Abadi government do something to prevent them, warning they’ll shift from fighting ISIS to fighting US troops instead.
US officials are pretty sure they can circumvent Abadi’s objections, but are trying to figure out the best way to do it without further weakening Abadi, who they still see as a vital ally. As one US official noted, “there are ways to make these things work.”
Key Iraqi MP Sami Askari, an ally of Abadi, suggested in the future this could be accomplished by just not making public statements, saying the US could easily add 100 or even 500 troops at a time “without anyone rejecting it” so long as they weren’t making high-profile announcements.