U.S. ready to help new Iraq prime minister

Aug 12, 2014, 7:46 AM EDT
Iraqi P.M.-designate Haider al-Abadi.
AFP/Getty Images

Iraq's new prime minister-designate won swift endorsements from both the United States and Iran on Tuesday as he called on political leaders to end crippling feuds that have let jihadists seize a third of the country.

Haider al-Abadi still faces a threat closer to home, where his Shi'ite party colleague Nuri al-Maliki has refused to step aside after eight years as premier, as Reuters reports:

Abadi, long exiled in Britain, is seen as far less polarizing, sectarian figure than Maliki, who is also from the Shi'ite Islamic Dawa party. Abadi appears to have the blessing of Iraq's powerful Shi'ite clergy.

Iraqi state television said Abadi "called on all political powers who believe in the constitution and democracy to unite efforts and close ranks to respond to Iraq’s great challenges".

One politician close to Abadi told Reuters that the prime minister-designate had begun contacting leaders of major groups to sound them out on forming a new cabinet. The president said on Monday he hoped he would succeed within the next month.

Maliki angrily dismissed Abadi's nomination on Monday as illegal. But there was no further sign of opposition on Tuesday.

Despite these turmoil, the U.S. has pressed forward with their alliance with Iraq'a new leadership, as USAToday points out:
For weeks, administration officials who have clashed with al-Maliki made little secret of their hopes for his departure, and they made their preference plain throughout the day on Monday,
Vice President Biden spoke by phone with the new prime minister-designate, al-Ibadi, as well as President Massoum, according to a pair of White House statements — neither of which mentioned al-Maliki.
"The prime minister-designate expressed his intent to move expeditiously to form a broad-based, inclusive government capable of countering the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and building a better future for Iraqis from all communities," said one of the statements.