Biden Makes Surprise Trip to Iraq
He's trying to shore up a shaky government
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 28, 2016 9:13 AM CDT
Vice President Joe Biden is greeted by U.S. Ambassador Stuart Jones after stepping off a C-17 military transport plane in Baghdad.   (AP Photo/Josh Lederman)

(Newser) – Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad on Thursday on a surprise visit intended to help Iraqi leaders resolve a political crisis that has hindered efforts to defeat the Islamic State. Biden landed at midday after an overnight flight from Washington. He was expected to meet with government officials and stress the need for unity, although the White House did not disclose his itinerary, reports the AP. Because of concern for Biden's security, his trip was not announced in advance. Journalists traveling with Biden had to agree to keep it secret until he arrived.

Protests and demands for political reforms have paralyzed an Iraqi government already struggling with a troubled economy and violent extremists. The Obama administration has stepped up the US military role with more troops and equipment, but the US worries that infighting in Baghdad is jeopardizing hard-fought gains with President Obama set to leave office in January. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is a Shiite whom the US considers a welcome improvement over his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Yet al-Abadi's failures to deliver on long-promised reforms and manage sectarian tensions have threatened his ability to lead.