Secretary of State John Kerry showed up unannounced in Baghdad on Friday. He made the visit with the intention of showing support for Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.
Abadi caused a stir last week when he proposed replacing several members of the cabinet as part of an effort to counter corruption in the national government. The prime minister’s reform efforts have not been well received and calls have been made for his removal. The US fears that such upheaval would undermine Iraq’s ability to be an effective player in the fight against the Islamic State. Iraqi forces have taken back an estimated 40% of its territory from ISIS but the Islamic State still controls large areas within Iraq’s political borders, including Mosul, it’s second largest city. Millions of Iraqis have been displaced as a result of the Islamic State, further taxing Iraq’s suffering economy. The US hopes Kerry’s visit “will underscore our strong support for the Iraqi government as it addresses significant security, economic and political challenges,” said US State Department spokesman John Kirby.
Kerry also plans to meet with representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government “to express U.S. appreciation for the critical role that the Kurdistan Regional Government has played in the coalition’s efforts to defeat Daeesh.” US Vice President Joe Biden also made a phone call to Abadi to express support for reform efforts and emphasis the importance of maintaining “momentum” in the fight against ISIS.
After his visit to Iraq, Kerry went to Bahrain and met with ministers from six Gulf states. At the meeting, the ministers acknowledged “the need to support the Abadi government in its efforts to stabilize and eventually rebuild the country.”