"Mr. Abadi has been unable to repair the social divisions and sectarian tensions that former Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki fed by alienating Sunnis and Kurds, who are minorities in the majority Shiite nation. By refusing to consult other political leaders in advance, Mr. Abadi has failed to build the coalitions needed to support initiatives like the cabinet overhaul. Even the threat of the Mosul dam collapse went unaddressed until the Americans publicly warned of impending disaster. Only then did Baghdad name an Italian firm to make repairs. Such political dysfunction has been the one constant in Iraq since the American invasion in 2003. It has made some people rich and powerful, and has left millions of others without jobs, public services and hope of a better life," writes the New York Times editorial board.
"[Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr] has always tried to assert himself as an Iraqi Shia nationalist, independent of Iranian influence. Iran has always tried to get the various Iraqi Shia parties to unite, with the caveat that they form a united front that augments Iran's influence in Iraq. Ultimately the deadlock has benefited Sadr's political standing. By fomenting a protest movement and delivering an ultimatum to Abadi, Sadr has successfully pitted his two Shia political rivals, the Dawa Party of the prime minister, and the politicians of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) in parliament, against each other, undermining Iran's overarching goal of maintaining a unified Shia alliance in Iraq," writes Ibrahim Al-Marashi for Al Jazeera.
"The defiance belied the crisis Iraq faces on multiple levels. Plunging oil revenues mean it will probably be unable to pay its bloated public sector payroll next year, a scenario that has sparked an overdue reckoning of systemic corruption and poor governance. Sectarian divisions, which have become ever more evident in the political system, have damaged the country’s capacity to tackle a second existential threat, the rise of Islamic State – which claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that left at least 31 people dead in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah on Sunday. Without the lead role of non-state actors, such as Shia militias, Iran and US-led airstrikes, the terror group might have overrun Baghdad, just as it did four other cities: Mosul, Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah," writes Martin Chulov for the Guardian.