Inside Obama's push for regime change in Iraq

President Obama has been pushing for regime change for Iraq since late June, The Daily Beast has learned.

No, Obama has not proposed toppling Iraq’s government by force like his predecessor once did. But the president has instructed his diplomats in Washington and Baghdad to find an alternative to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Since June those diplomats have quietly supported a member of Maliki’s own political party to be the next prime minister. On Sunday, the effort appeared to pay off, when a majority of Shi’ite politicians threw their weight behind Haidar al-Abadi, leading to Iraq’s president to instruct him to begin forming a new government.

“We have been working very quietly on the ground and sending messages to various parties that al-Abadi is a viable alternative,” one U.S. official told The Daily Beast.

The American push—which has not been previously reported—wasn’t the only factor that led to al-Abadi’s rise. Iraq’s deterioration in recent months led some of Maliki’s Shi’ite backers to pull their support of him.

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