Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is "toast" after anti-government protesters climbed over walls and stormed parliament on Saturday — threatening all efforts to destroy the Islamic State — and any intervention by the Obama administration will "just be political Band-Aids to address a significant problem," retired Army Col. Derek Harvey told Newsmax.
"Prime Minister al-Abadi is toast — and whether he remains prime minister or not, he's no longer effective," Harvey said in an interview. "Al-Abadi's days are numbered."
Harvey is a former senior intelligence officer and adviser to Gen. David Petraeus.
He called the protests, led by hundreds of supporters of Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a "coup" that creates a "competing center of power now that directly challenges the government and puts at risk everything we have been trying to do in working with them to fight ISIS."
The protesters scaled walls around the Green Zone in Baghdad, where most ministries and embassies are located, attacking one lawmaker and damaging vehicles near parliament, The New York Times reports
Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and later stood down as hundreds flooded the area and a nearby site called Celebration Square, which was used as a parade ground by Saddam Hussein, according to the Times.
Later Saturday, al-Abadi said in a statement that "the situation in Baghdad is under the control of the security forces." He called on protesters to demonstrate peacefully without damaging the "property of state institutions."
Al-Abadi was to appear before parliament when the protests began. When he last went before the body, earlier this month, lawmakers hurled insults and called the prime minister's leadership illegitimate.
The demonstrations marked a major escalation after months of sit-ins and unrest by al-Sadr's followers, who are calling for wide-ranging political reforms aimed at the combatting corruption and waste that has engulfed Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
"We've seen it coming for months," Harvey told Newsmax. "There is nothing positive about this."
The chaos paves the way for Hezbollah terrorists to further its moves in Iraq — "and there's not going to be any help from Baghdad in retaking Mosul," Harvey said.
"It's going to move us much closer to a divided country," with the Shiites, the Sunni Muslim tribes and the Kurdish rebels, he added. "The Kurds are going to pull out of Baghdad."
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been "a day late … a dollar short" in the run-up to Saturday's turmoil — and "their response will just be political Band-Aids to address a significant problem.
"They will say that they’re going to increase their political engagement or send an envoy to broker support or offer more financial assistance," Harvey offered. "They'll announce another diplomatic initiative."
But since the protests tug at Iraq's fundamental existence — "we have, in effect, three separate entities," he said — President Barack Obama and his administration need to develop a new strategy for the country.
"We need to change our framework in thinking about this because the Iraq that we have known and have been fighting to keep together isn't going to survive."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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