Strong opposition

STUTTGART, Germany – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in a strong position despite political unrest in Iraq, thanks in part to battlefield successes and his commitment to a multi-sectarian state, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Monday.

“He seems to be in a very strong position. Obviously we support him strongly because of what he stands for,” Mr Carter told reporters travelling with him shortly before landing in Germany.

Mr Carter’s full-throated backing of Mr Abadi, one of his most forceful to date, follows months of intense Iraqi political wrangling that has put the country on edge.

Mr Abadi has attempted to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats as part of an anti-corruption drive. A divided parliament has failed to approve the proposal amid scuffles and protests.

“Prime Minister Abadi stands for and has been a partner in all of the things that are important to Iraq’s future, namely a country that holds together and doesn’t just spiral off into sectarianism,” Mr Carter said.

Corruption became a major issue after global oil prices collapsed two years ago, shrinking the state budget at a time when it needed additional income to wage war against Islamic State.

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