As Sunni militants continue to battle against government forces for control of cities in Iraq, U.S. leaders are saying the country would be better off without its prime minister.
Though Washington leaders have kept a straight face in public, internally they are hoping for the resignation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Speaking before a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Senate Intelligence Committee head Dianne Feinstein said that "I think that most of us that have followed this are really convinced that the Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any reconciliation." Outgoing White House spokesman Jay Carney said that "there's no question that not enough has been done by the government, including the prime minister, to govern inclusively, and that that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that we have today in Iraq," stressing that the U.S. will focus on the desires of the Iraqi public. "The Iraqi people will have to decide the makeup of the next coalition government and who is the prime minister," he said.
This week, as pressure rose from the U.S. and other allies to work toward a representative government for Iraq, Mr. Maliki participated in a unity meeting with top Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders. The result wasn't hopeful, U.S. and Arab officials say. "We believe that Maliki's sectarianism and exclusion of Sunnis has led to the insurgency we are seeing," said a senior Arab official. "He unfortunately managed to unite ISIS with the former Baathists and Saddam supporters."