Under huge international and domestic pressure, Iraq swore in a new government on Monday, opening the way for an expansion of U.S. military support to fight Islamist extremists in the country.
The vote to approve a new cabinet came during a fiery late-night parliamentary session. Key positions, including those of the defense and security chiefs, were left open amid controversy over who would fill them. Now confirmed as prime minister, Haider al-Abadi said he would name candidates for those positions within a week.
The new lineup meets U.S. demands for an inclusive government involving disenfranchised Sunni and Kurdish minorities, which the Obama administration has linked to further military assistance. President Obama is expected to address the nation Wednesday to outline a broader strategy to combat militants from the brutal al-Qaeda breakaway group Islamic State.
Late Monday, he called Abadi and emphasized “the need for the United States and Iraq to continue working closely with the international community to build on recent actions to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State,” according to a White House statement.
Abadi pledged to “work with all communities in Iraq,” the statement said, and move quickly “to address the aspirations and legitimate grievances of the Iraqi people.” American officials hope that the new government will be able to bridge divides and peel away support for the al-Qaeda splinter group, which is tearing apart Iraq’s borders.