Fallujah battle: Al Abadi stakes leadership claim
Al Abadi to silence political rivals by retaking Fallujah before parliament returns from Ramadan in mid-July.
Baghdad: Haider Al Abadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister expects two victories from the battle advancing in Fallujah. The first victory is over Daesh,and the second one over political rivals, including some backed by Iran.
Political analysts opined that Al Abadi expects to consolidate his leadership by regaining possession over Fallujah before parliament returns from Ramadan in mid-July.
Iraqi army view to capturing Daesh’s Iraqi ‘capital’ this year by clearing the path for the to march on the northern city of Mosul.
Al Abadi’s ability to end a political crisis over measures to fight graft would be eroded by the prolonged battle for Fallujah. This may open the way for rivals to challenge his rule — and delay the US-backed campaign to defeat Daesh.
Baghdad-based security analyst Hesham Al Hashemi reported that “the stakes are high for the prime minister and for the campaign on Daesh,”.“There is an undeclared deadline by which he needs to finish with Fallujah, and that’s when parliament reconvenes,” Al Hashemi added.
Al Hashemi has also narrated the book The World of Daesh.
Al Hashemi's assessment was shared by a senior government official who spoke to Reuters in Baghdad.
Al Abadi shifted the focus domestically away from a crisis that unfolded when he failed to push through a cabinet reshuffle he sought as part of his drive to fight corruption when the war has been started in Fallujah on May 23.
Al Abadi, was elected two years ago on promises to curb corruption, defeat Daesh and to mend a rift with the Sunni minority.Al Abadi is a moderate Shiite politician.
The followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr turned the demonstrations held in support of Al Abadi's reforms into violence. Protesters have twice attacked the Green Zone district that houses government offices, parliament and embassies since April.
Hassan Hassan, the author of the book ISIS: inside the Army of Terror reported that “instead of fighting in the Green Zone, he [Al Abadi] chose to fight in Fallujah,”.
Hassan opined that the fear, is that a stalled battle in Fallujah will undermine the battle for Mosul or take a sectarian turn with the involvement of Shiite militias.
The collapse of the Iraqi army in June 2014 when Daesh pushed into Mosul left Al Abadi reliant for ground troops on Shiite militias, known as Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation. Shiite militias were trained and influenced by Iran.
The army has gained strength over the past year, and it has recaptured Ramadi, the capital of Sunni Anbar province, west of Baghdad. It has led offensives on the insurgents.
Shiite militias are realizing that their role diminished.
The government official reported that the battle inside the city of Fallujah had been assigned to elite army units, with Sunni tribal fighters following behind to hold the ground.The Hashid, should stay on the outskirts enforcing the encirclement and as back up, he added in the report.
The Sunni politicians have voiced alarm that the Shiite militias would seek to settle scores with the population of the city. This has made Al Abadi has been keen to defuse sectarian tension.
Al Abadi has pledged to punish those who commit “violations” against civilians. The offensive had slowed down to protect those who remained in the city, estimated by the United Nations at 90,000, he added in a report.
The United Nations reported that there were “extremely distressing, credible reports” of men and boys executed and abused after fleeing Fallujah into territory controlled by government forces and their Shiite militia allies.
People who managed to have a narrow escape lived on stale dates for months as they could no longer afford to buy supplies under insurgent control. According to a US. military estimate there may be between 500 and 700 fighters are in Fallujah. The Shiite militias reports say that the number of fighters is closer to 2,500.
Al Abadi is trying in his policy of building up good relation with Iraq’s Sunnis and Sunni Arab neighbouring states. He also tries to distance Baghdad from the struggle for regional supremacy between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
Iranian Major General Qassem Sulaimani, the commander of the Quds Brigade, showed up their concern by visiting Iraqi allies near Fallujah.
Cairo and Amman were visited by Foreign Minister Ebrahim Al Jaafari, a Shiite, with a senior Iraqi Sunni cleric, Abdul Latif Humayim, in a show of national unity.