ABC News quotes Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Ramzy Mardini on Secretary Kerry’s trip to Baghdad to discuss the ongoing crisis in Iraq:
But even as both sides are skeptical of the United States’ loyalties, it’s Maliki who is still in charge – and he hasn’t yet demonstrated much interest in heeding the United States’ requests for inclusivity.
“This will be Kerry’s first experience in playing the Iraqi gamesmanship of government formation. He’s in for a rude awakening if he thinks putting an Iraqi government together can be done with a visit here and there,” Ramzy Mardini, an Iraq expert with the Atlantic Council based in Amman, Jordan, said.
In fact, the last time Kerry tried to persuade Maliki to do something failed, as the politically unpopular Prime Minister last year refused to prohibit Iran from flying over Iraq’s airspace to make arms deliveries to Syria, because Maliki decided he had more of a stake in preventing the Shiite Assad regime from being toppled by Sunni militants than in stopping Iran, Mardini noted.
“Kerry has a tendency of overvaluing not just his influence, but U.S. influence in general,” Mardini said. “He failed because he didn’t understand that it was in Maliki’s interests for those arms to keep flowing to Syria.”