During his visit to the United States, Abadi talked about efforts to limit the PMU role at the political level, and expressed desire for rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, especially following his meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on the sidelines of the Ministers of the Global Coalition meeting in Washington on March 22.
Pundits believe that Trump’s meetings with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 14 and with Abadi on March 20 come in the same context of the new Arab inclination toward Iraq, in line with Washington’s policy, seeking to curb Iran’s role in the region.
This is especially true since during the meeting between Trump and Prince Mohammed — who also is Saudi Arabia’s defense minister — participants openly touched on the risks of the Iranian influence in the region and that there is no better place than Iraq to start curbing the Iranian role.
Therefore, the US support of Abadi will depend on his effort to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq, and to dissolve or restrict the parts of the Shiite armed factions under the PMU that are affiliated with Iran.
Perhaps Trump’s exceptional reception and welcoming of Abadi amid what was described as positive talks were a message to Shiite leaders in Iraq about Abadi’s leaning toward the United States’ clear and declared policy against Iran and the forces loyal to it.
However, Abadi is likely to pay dearly for such a stance, as he would have to face Iran’s allies in Baghdad, namely the PMU leaders.
“We hope that Abadi’s visit to the US will be supportive of the PMU, as in his supportive stances at previous international forums,” PMU spokesman Ahmed al-Asadi said at a March 22 press conference.