“That seems a strange word to use,” Harf said when a reporter asked if the United States would describe the deployment on Sunday as part of a coup.
Al-Maliki “is still the prime minister,” Harf added. “So by definition, coup would not be it.”
Harf said she couldn’t speak for al-Maliki and his intentions for the deployment, but added that the Iraqi government does face a security challenge from militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Al-Maliki accused Iraqi President Fouad Massoum of engaging in a coup because he failed to name a new prime minister by Sunday’s deadline.
“This attitude represents a coup on the constitution and the political process in a country that is governed by a democratic and federal system,” al-Maliki said in a televised address, according to The Washington Times.
Secretary of State John Kerry later urged al-Maliki not to make it more difficult to form a new Iraqi government.
On Monday, Iraq’s president nominated Haider al-Abadi to be Iraq’s new prime minister. Vice President Biden called al-Abadi and congratulated him on the nomination.
Harf stopped short of fully endorsing al-Abadi and said the U.S. “never supported any one person or one party here.” Al-Abadi now has 30 days to present a new government for approval.