As rapid gains are made by the Sunni extremists advancing for Baghdad, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry helicoptered into the Iraqi capital on Monday to talk with beleaguered president Nouri al-Maliki.
Daily reports suggest that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are overwhelming the Iraqi army. ISIS now control key border towns, threatening Syria and Jordan, as well as the key Iraqi towns of Baiji, Mosul, Fallujah and Tikrit.
Kerry recommended a path of radical changes to the government to increase inclusivity and diplomacy between the different ethnic factions in the country. He had previously made it clear that Washington would not support al-Maliki if he does not make strides towards partisanship, and he plans to meet with Sunni and Kurdish leaders this week.
Kerry's tack with al-Maliki echoed U.S. President Barak Obama's statement last week, reconfirming that the U.S. would not be sending front-line troops back to Iraq. Another new diplomatic avenue the superpower is pursuing is to foster Iranian help.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, however, sees the ISIS surge as a “dispute [...] between those who want Iraq to join the U.S. camp and those who seek an independent Iraq," making productive talks between the adversaries unlikely.
Journalists writing from the region, including BBC Middle East correspondent Jim Muir and CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson have written that ISIS's invasion of Iraq is making unification of the country – in the way it was prior to the invasion – increasingly unlikely. Robertson expressed skepticism in an online Q&A session specifically about the efficacy of “political compromise” which would inevitably be “short-lived.