Fall of Ramadi Should Be Last Chance for Iraq’s Abadi Government

By Arian Mufid:

Haidar Abadi, Iraq prime minister

Haidar Abadi, Iraq prime minister

While the Iraqi government, together with KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) and US-led coalition forces, have been busy developing a plan to re-capture Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, the news of the fall to IS of Ramadi, the third largest city, has shocked millions, for two main reasons. First, it has happened despite the pledge by the Prime Minister Haidar Abadi, who was appointed last year after the fall of Mosul, to restore national security and law and order. Second, it is despite all the heavy weaponry provided to Iraq by the US and Russia.

The KRG too is baffled by this development in this strategically important city which is close to the borders of Syria and Jordan. This event shows to the whole world that the Iraqi government is in a state of collapse and has no teeth to govern the country. In reality it rules only territory equal to the size of Great Britain – less than half of the country. What is going on in the centre of Iraq reveals that the Sunni population feels locked out of the political process and power sharing in the Iraqi government: otherwise how could be possible for these brutal IS forces to once again advance so quickly in the Sunni areas of Iraq? Iraq is a relatively young country, created in the 1920s, which has built many roads, bridges and hospitals which are all being destroyed by IS. Iraq is becoming a country beyond repair and the prospect of fixing and uniting it is vanishing.

We have to ask ourselves why Iraq has gone this way since the end of Saddam’s savage era? We have had highly repressive and backward forces ruling Iraq since 2003 when it was liberated by the hands of American forces. The ruling Dawa Party led by Maliki and Abadi has a record of utter humiliation. Baghdad used to be esteemed around the world as a modern city, but nowadays it is more like a vast third world shanty town. Abadi’s government is a continuation of Nuri Maliki’s regime. Both administrations have surrendered strong cities with Sunni populations to IS forces, and both have continuously threatened the Kurdish people in the north by cutting their budget and oil income.

There is no point worrying about the integrity of Iraq’s territory as it is effectively partitioned into three areas. As a consequence of Iraq’s Shia-dominated government, Baghdad could yet fall into the hands of IS which is dominating Falluja, not many kilometres away from the capital. Iraq has no army and the income of oil falls into the hands of corrupted pro-Iranian Abadi government officials. The Iragi government is dependent on militia groups and it does not have the capability to wage advanced modern warfare.

The Abadi government and, more pertinently, its international backers must face up to all these failures. The international coalition forces must take the latest development as an extremely serious threat to the region and a new strategy is needed to erradicate IS. The Abadi government has demonstrably failed and it should be replaced by an administration comprising more pluralist people from inside the Iraqi parliament.

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