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What do Iraqi leaders hope to hear from Obama’s strategy?

A series of attacks against security forces in Baghdad killed at least 30 people. The violence occurred on the same day that Secretary of State John Kerry met with the new Iraqi political leadership to discuss the Islamic State crisis and Iraq’s wishes for increased assistance and training from the United States for their military. Judy Woodruff gets an update from Matt Bradley of The Wall Street Journal.

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    Meanwhile, inside Iraq today, at least 30 people were killed in a series of attacks targeting security forces and markets in Baghdad.

    Wall Street Journal reporter Matt Bradley is on the ground there. I spoke with him a short while ago.

    Matt Bradley, welcome.

    We just reported that Secretary of State Kerry has arrived in Baghdad, meeting with the new political leadership there. What have you learned about the visit?

  • MATT BRADLEY, The Wall Street Journal:

    Well, Secretary Kerry met with some of the leading — leading ministers here in Iraq. We have to remember that these are men who assumed their post just in the last two days. They were sworn into office on Monday night.

    And Mr. Kerry has been trying to project an image of this new government as an inclusive government, one that he can take back to Washington and say is going to be supporting all of the U.S. intervention in Iraq with the support of the entire country, of Sunni Arabs, of Shiite Arabs, and of the Kurdish minority in the north.

    So these meetings right now were for John Kerry to try to explain what President Obama is going to be explaining to the American public tonight.


    Is there a sense, Matt, that this new government is going to be more inclusive? And how much difference will that make?


    It's not so much that this government is more inclusive. And even though the Obama administration keeps using the word inclusive to describe this government, in terms of numbers and in terms of the positions and the power structure, it's exactly the same or even possibly less inclusive than the previous government under the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

    But what Obama administration officials keep saying over and over again is that Prime Minister Maliki is gone, that Prime Minister Maliki was the problem, and that now that he's in the vice presidency position, he has basically been declawed, and this new prime minister, even though he's from the same political party, which is a strong Shiite political party, is going to be a lot better.

    They're saying Haider al-Abadi is a more patient, more inclusive leader, and that he's going to bring everyone to the table, including Sunnis and including Kurds, when it comes to talking about policy and confronting the Islamic State.


    And, Matt, what are you hearing about what these Iraqi leaders want to hear from President Obama Obama? And is there a difference between what the Shia, the Sunni, and the Kurdish leaders are saying on that?


    Here in Iraq, a lot of these politicians who were so against the United States involvement only a couple of years ago, they were really trying to push the United States out before they finally left in December 2011.

    Now it's almost unanimous that everyone, from Shiites, to Sunnis, to Kurds, they all want to see more U.S. involvement. Some of them just want the U.S. to stick to airstrikes, but they want to see more airstrikes. Everybody across the board, they want to see more weapons to the Iraqi military. They want to see more and better training for the Iraqi military by the Americans. They want to see more American advisers, of which there are already several hundred on the ground here in Baghdad.

    And some even want to see boots on the ground. They want to see U.S. forces reemerging on the ground here in Iraq to fight back an Islamist insurgency that the Iraqi military has shown themselves incapable of really confronting.


    And we know the Obama administration has ruled out boots on the ground, but it will be interesting to see how much of that squares with what the president said.

    Matt, we thank you very much, Matt Bradley, joining us from Baghdad.


    Thank you.


    In a few minutes, we will turn to the diplomatic and political implications of the president's plan.

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