Abadi visited Basra on Monday after a week of demonstrations left at least 15 people dead and government offices, political party headquarters and the Iranian consulate in sooty ruins. He discovered that a fragile calm had returned to the city over the weekend — but that his own political future had at the same time become much more uncertain.
The protesters had fixed their frustrations on Iraq’s entire political class, chanting slogans aimed at both the government and the parties and militias aligned with Iran. But Abadi’s challengers for the post of prime minister have outmaneuvered him, seizing on the public anger to cast him as an impossible choice.
The United States, which had cultivated few alternatives to Abadi’s leadership, now finds itself with little influence over the shape of Iraq’s new government, analysts said.