'A signature blot on Obama's foreign policy record' is brewing in Iraq

Baghdad protesters leave Green Zone but vow to keep up pressure over corruption

Protesters stormed Iraq's heavily fortified Green Zone over the weekend, for the first time since its concrete barriers were erected more than 13 years ago to separate US security forces and Iraqi elites from the rest of Baghdad.

The unprecedented breach has created an "accelerated meltdown" that "could be both a local catastrophe and a signature blot on Obama's foreign policy record," David Rothkopf, the CEO of the Foreign Policy publishing group, said on Monday.

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'A signature blot on Obama's foreign policy record' is brewing in Iraq
Followers of Iraq's Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen in the parliament building as they storm Baghdad's Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government, in Iraq April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
Followers of Iraq's Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen in the parliament building as they storm Baghdad's Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government, in Iraq April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
Followers of Iraq's Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen in the parliament building as they storm Baghdad's Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government, in Iraq April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Followers of Iraq's Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are seen at the parliament building as they storm Baghdad's Green Zone after lawmakers failed to convene for a vote on overhauling the government, in Iraq April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
An Iraqi man reacts as protesters gather inside the parliament after breaking into Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' on April 30, 2016. A protest held outside the Green Zone escalated after parliament again failed to reach a quorum and approve new ministers to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers. / AFP / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi protesters flash the V-sign as they gather inside the parliament after breaking into Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' on April 30, 2016. A protest held outside the Green Zone escalated after parliament again failed to reach a quorum and approve new ministers to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers. / AFP / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi protesters wave national flags as they gather inside the parliament after breaking into Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' on April 30, 2016. A protest held outside the Green Zone escalated after parliament again failed to reach a quorum and approve new ministers to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers. / AFP / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi protesters wave national flags and shout slogans after breaking into Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' on April 30, 2016. A protest held outside the Green Zone escalated after parliament again failed to reach a quorum and approve new ministers to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers. / AFP / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi protesters holding national flags gather inside the parliament after breaking into Baghdad's heavily fortified 'Green Zone' on April 30, 2016. A protest held outside the Green Zone escalated after parliament again failed to reach a quorum and approve new ministers to replace the current government of party-affiliated ministers. / AFP / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI (Photo credit should read HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Ever since the Islamic State overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014, much of President Barack Obama's dealings with Baghdad have revolved around formulating a cohesive strategy to halt the jihadists' momentum in Iraq and Syria.

It has been a battle that, as The Washington Post's Greg Jaffe pointed out, "is predicated on having a credible and effective Iraqi ally on the ground in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi."

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As many analysts have noted since the political chaos erupted on Saturday, the Obama administration's narrow focus on consolidating a partnership with Abadi has resulted in a one-dimensional policy that focuses too heavily on one manifestation of Iraq's political instability — ISIS — rather than its root cause, which is widespread incompetence and corruption.

"The message to the Iraqis has been to focus on the short-term problem that this president would like solved by January," Doug Ollivant, a former military planner in Baghdad and senior fellow at the New America Foundation, told The Washington Post. "The focus is on the symptom and not the root cause of the problem."

"The US should move its effort to the KRG to build a majority Sunni force to clear and hold ISIS territory," Pregent said, referring to the Kurdistan Regional Government. "Ultimately, the fight against ISIS is too important to leave to a dysfunctional Baghdad."

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