Political scientist Mohammed Naanaa told Al-Monitor, “Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will try to convince the Shiite parties that he has taken the position of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran to maintain American support, which is the role he can actually play. Abadi cannot afford to turn his back on Tehran or lose US support.”
Naanaa said, “The real confrontation will be between Abadi and the PMU, and he will have to resort to the Sunni forces and the Sadrist movement, who seek the same goal — that is the dissolution of the PMU.”
He said it was unlikely for Abadi to remain within the State of Law coalition led by Nouri al-Maliki, the former prime minister who is pro-Iran.
As the dust settles in the war on IS and amid the expected liberation of Mosul in the coming weeks, Abadi will have to meet US demands concerning the PMU and Iran’s allies. In this context, he can actually resort to his undeclared ally Muqtada al-Sadr to confront the PMU factions, but Abadi would then be in direct confrontation with Sadr if the US administration wants to keep its soldiers inside Iraqi territory, which the Sadrists consider a red line that cannot be crossed.
In the meantime, Abadi is ready for the battles involved in local elections at the end of this year and the general elections early next year, distancing himself from Maliki without angering Iran. Will he be able to overcome all of these challenges, even with the help of a strong ally like the United States?