This guy is our last chance to undo some of the damage we helped create and for Iraq to survive as country. If he fails ISIS wins.
On Aug. 11th, 2014 in the Baghdad parliament building before a crowd of hundreds a beleaguered looking Fuad Masum, president of Iraq turned to his Prime Minister (1) designee, Haider al-Abadi and whispered, May God help you.” Indeed! This plenipotentiary leader will need all the blessings her can get if Iraq will survive the murderous hoard called ISIS and all out civil war. (al-Abadi is shown left in second row, next to Maliki)
As bad as the media has made things sound in war torn Iraq their words fail to capture the real human misery. I’m not aware of another nation that has suffered more than Iraq in the past 100 years. They’ve endured British colonialism, numerous coups, invasions from neighbors, protracted wars, international sanctions and four decades of misrule by Saddam Hussein and most recently President Maliki. Now they (Iraqis) face a full on invasion by ISIS forces. For our part, since 2003 the United States has dumped more than a trillion dollars into the reconstruction of Iraq and we lost over 4500 American lives. But, despite our monumental sacrifices and generosity we have very little to show for it, we didn’t even secure the oil. If the bitter truth were known, since the day we took this country by force Iraq has been on a death spiral. We’ve witness the de-evolution of Iraq as it morphed into a grotesque combination of war torn Syria, Lebanon and Libya.
The new Prime Minister will have to overcome ISIS, Iranian meddling and rampant corruption.
The key player in Iraq now is al Abadi, a moderate Shiite and commander in chief of the Iraqi military as well as Prime Minister. He is currently liaising with Gen. Lloyd Austin, Commander of United States Central Command, in charge of security in the Middle East. Who is Iraq’s new Prime Minister and what does he offer his country and us, can we trust him? To be honest, there’s not much known about him, but I searched the web and here is his bio in brief: Abadi was born in Baghdad in 1952. He was educated at the University of Baghdad and later received a doctorate from the University of Manchester in Britain. Abadi’s father, who had been a prominent Iraqi official (doctor), was accused of insufficient loyalty to the regime and was forced to retire in 1979. He moved to Britain and lived there until his death.
Abadi lived in Britain for many years where he trained as an electrical engineer, but after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 he saw an opportunity to return to his home country and play a major role in politics. He became minister of communications in the Iraqi Governing Council in September 2003, then was a key adviser to Maliki in Iraq’s first post-invasion elected government. Just weeks ago, he was elected deputy speaker of parliament, and he always on the short list for prime minister after the past two elections. His first challenge of the kleptocracy that has become Iraq is to do some major reconciliation among the disparate factions that together make up what is left of the country that is not in ISIS hands. At best what’s left of Iraq is a confused, corrupt and frightened confederation of tribes, political opportunists and a scattering of religious minorities. They are a coalition of the “barely willing” and “barely able”.
However, if there is one bright spot amid the fog of war, its that unlike President Maliki, PM Abadi is a moderate and that’s just what Iraq needs now. They need a leader to bridge the gap between Sunni and Shi’ite and Kurds. Abadi comes with some experience mediating long standing tribal grudges and a plethora of religious differences. Abadi needs to build a consensus among these groups and fast. One of the former President Maliki greatest failures was his pro-Shia sectarian politics that left too many minorities out of power. Maliki, filled the government with Shiites while minimizing Sunni and Kurdish participation. This led to many legitimate complaints.
This explains how ISIS was at first welcomed as liberators but Sunnis. They simply did not understand what they were inviting into their communities, which was anything but liberating.
Like al-Maliki, Abadi is a member of the Islamic Dawa Party, one of the country’s biggest Shiite political blocs. Like the man he’ll take over from, his power base is with Iraq’s majority Shiites. And just like Maliki, Abadi was forced into exile by Saddam Hussein. He also returned to Iraq after the Sunni dictator was toppled in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion. But, that’s where the similarities end. Both Sunni and Shia tribal and clerical leaders have given their conditional backing to Iraq’s new Prime Minister, in a move that could end political deadlock and potentially rise to meet the ISIS threat.
“The talks to form the government were positive and constructive. I hope in the next two coming days to agree on a clear vision of a unified program for the government,” Abadi said. Unfortunately right after this a Sunni suicide bomber attacked a Shi’ite mosque in Baghdad and killed at least nine people and wounded 21.
( 1 )The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible for the general policy of the State and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of Representatives. The cabinet is responsible for overseeing their respective ministries, proposing laws, preparing the budget, negotiating and signing international agreements and treaties, and appointing undersecretaries, ambassadors, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and his assistants, Division Commanders or higher, the Director of the National Intelligence Service, and heads of security institutions.
Sources: New York Times, CNN News, BBC, Iraq Business News, Wikipedia.