U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with NPR on Friday about the deteriorating situation in Iraq. "My assessment of the situation we're in today is not a military failure, but a failure of political leadership."
Iraqi leaders, along with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, have championed a two-track approach in response to the crisis, militarily and politically: fight ISIS and form an inclusive new government in line with Iraq's constitutional mandates.
According to Iraq's constitution, Parliament must select a prime minister within 75 days of its first session.
As Parliament delays, ISIS militants have "continued to pose a legitimate threat to Baghdad and its environs," a U.S. official told CNN. "We have seen them reinforce themselves around Baghdad enough to convince us more troops was the prudent thing to do."
The Pentagon announced on Monday it has ordered 300 more U.S. troops to Iraq, in addition to the 300 U.S. military advisers deployed earlier.
At Tuesday's brief parliamentary session, 90 members failed to return from a morning break. Acting speaker Mahdi al-Hafez announced not enough members were present to establish a quorum. "We are going to postpone because of an urgent matter," the speaker said, but did not specify what the urgent matter was.
There should be urgency for Iraq to form a new government, U.S. officials have said. The U.S. role, Dempsey clarified, is one of support and non-interference.
"One thing we would absolutely have to be concerned about is that this doesn't become an issue between Sunni and Shia, with us taking one side or the other...
"There's a great phrase that when there's no center, there are only sides. And that's why you've heard us -- all those of us who've had experience in Iraq -- state as a first principle that we really have to see what the Iraqis themselves, and in particular, the central government intends to do to try to get these groups into a better place."
The Parliament is set to reconvene next week.