Iraq’s new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, has a daunting task ahead of him: With the world watching, the Shiite politician must unify a deeply divided country against Sunni militants who have seized much of its territory.
First, though, he must find officials to run the defense and interior ministries who will be acceptable to Iraq’s parliament, which approved his Cabinet late Monday except for those positions along with a few lesser posts.
The Islamic State group’s lightning advance across much of northern and western Iraq has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since June. It prompted the U.S. to launch aid operations and airstrikes in hopes of boosting the waning efforts of Iraqi and Kurdish forces looking to regain control of lost territory, including five more strikes Monday and Tuesday to protect the Haditha Dam.
The success of outreach efforts to Iraq’s alienated Sunni minority will be a key part of international efforts to beat back the Islamic State militants, who also control parts of neighboring Syria. French President Francois Hollande also will travel to Iraq on Friday to help prepare an international conference to back Iraq’s efforts against the group.
Addressing lawmakers, al-Abadi said the central government, which includes all major religious and ethnic groups in Iraq, must make sure that cities and provinces have enough money to deliver basic services. He also emphasized the need to provide housing and education to more than a million people displaced by the militants’ advance.