Tension is rising in the conflict between embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), as the United States and Iran vie for influence in the new government that lawmakers are struggling to form in Baghdad.
Legislators are still arguing over which coalition of political parties holds the majority of parliament seats; the top group will select the new Cabinet. The United States would like to see Abadi appointed for a second term as prime minister, but he is strongly opposed by members of the Fatah Alliance, which includes pro-Iranian factions of the PMU.
Anti-Abadi sentiment is escalating, compounded by rioting in Basra — even as Abadi announced Sept. 13 he would immediately begin implementing development projects to help remedy the dire situation there. Basra, Iraq's main port, is suffering from a lack of basic services. Tens of thousands of citizens have filled hospitals, sickened by drinking water that is heavily polluted and high in salinity. Abadi promised a new water-pumping system as well as filtration projects.