WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S.-Iraq ties may improve as a result of Nuri al-Maliki's resignation as Iraqi prime minister, experts say.
Al-Maliki announced late Thursday that he decided to withdraw his nomination for a third term in office and back the nomination of Hader al-Abadi for the post of prime minister.
The move came as militants of the so-called Islamic State (IS) is overrunning vast swaths of the country's north in an orgy of violence and beheadings.
Al-Maliki has been criticized for what many label as dividing the country. At the same time, Washington has urged Iraq to form an inclusive government.
"The removal of al-Maliki takes away the single biggest obstacle to improved U.S.-Iraqi relations," Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department's Middle East Intelligence Office, told Xinhua on Saturday.
Indeed, the Obama administration on Thursday praised al-Maliki for stepping down, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry billed the move as "essential to pulling the country together and consolidating the efforts of Iraq's many diverse communities against the common threat" of the IS.
Kerry said the United States is ready to work with the new government against the IS and will "encourage other countries in the region and international community to do the same."
Experts said al-Maliki has largely dismantled the only major U.S. success in Iraq -- the deal with over 100,000 Sunni Arab insurgents against al-Qaida in Iraq. And in wrecking Baghdad's cooperation with Sunni Arabs, al-Maliki set the stage for a revived Sunni Arab insurgency.
Even more than U.S. military and political cooperation, Iraq needs a resuscitation of that deal -- this time against the IS, White said.
He added that if al-Abadi can lead Iraq's ruling circles into a new national pact that establishes a basis for far less sectarian-edged governance, that would make more difference in the struggle against the IS than any military action.
Still, the coming weeks would likely see efforts on the part of the IS to take advantage of the governance vacuum in Baghdad while al-Abadi works through the tortured process of government formation, White said.