It is no secret that the internal and regional disputes that dashed former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s hopes of serving a third term eventually led to a fragile agreement on forming the new government, ultimately established by Haider al-Abadi, in September 2014. Although Prime Minister Abadi has exerted great effort to maintain a balance between factions and keep the country from falling prey to confrontations between rival camps, the extent of the polarization he continues to face is making his task difficult.
Abadi adopted a middle-ground approach to the US-Iranian competition over influence in Iraq in order ultimately to preserve Iraq’s own interests. Abadi visited both countries within a relatively short period after taking office, heading to the United States on April 13 and to Tehran on June 17 on his second visit to Iran. Abadi also refused to take sides in the ongoing disputes between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil and the unity government he heads in Baghdad and between the KRG and the political parties currently holding power. This has spared the country the type of public and intense conflicts that flared up under previous governments.