President Obama has just announced that the US is prepared to launch strikes against ISIS in Iraq if the situation on the ground requires it. The US will send up to 300 military advisers to the country. It is understood that they will provide intelligence on what targets US air power should hit. But Obama stressed that they would not be involved in combat roles.
In a sign of the US’s deep disenchantment with the current Iraqi government, administration officials have told the Washington Post that they are working to see if a new Iraqi government can be put together following this April’s parliamentary elections. The US would like to see a broader based, less sectarian government emerge that includes Shi’ites, Sunnis and Kurds.
Maliki’s own party controls 92 seats, short of the 165 needed to have a majority in the parliament. But it is hard to see what figure in the Iraqi parliament other than Maliki could gather enough support to form a government.