The Republican Palace in central Baghdad was once Saddam Hussein’s preferred spot for meeting foreign leaders. The complex here, which served as the headquarters for the U.S. occupation, is vast and gaudily ornate. A huge outdoor fountain features a golden dragon that blasts high-pressure arcs of water through the air.
Today the palace is back in the hands of the Iraqis, and again serves as a destination for dignitaries. Hours before President Barack Obama addressed Americans Wednesday night about how he’ll combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), John Kerry’s motorcade pulled up outside the palace under a blazing hot sun. The Secretary of State was there for a meeting with Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s new prime minister—and a man on whom Obama is placing a very large bet.
Two days earlier, Kerry had hailed the Iraqi parliament’s choice of Abadi to succeed Nouri al-Maliki…
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