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Monday, August 17, 2015

Iraqi parliament blames loss of Mosul to ISIS on Maliki; ISF making slow progress in its operations to retake Ramadi.

Links: A. Maliki to blame for loss of Mosul to ISIS.
           B. Operation to retake Ramadi continues.

On Monday, an Iraqi Parliamentary panel recommended that former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki face trial regarding his actions during the ISIS operation to take Mosul last year.  In particular, the panel pointed out that Maliki fanned sectarian tensions, which encouraged many Iraqi Sunnis in Mosul to welcome ISIS.  The panel's recommendation comes on the heels of another administrative shake-up in the government, as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi eliminated eleven ministerial posts, reducing the size of the cabinet by a third.  Last week, Abadi proposed the elimination of the offices of Deputy Prime Minister and Vice President, currently held my Maliki.  Abadi's efforts to slim-down the Iraqi government are an effort to eliminate redundancy and corruption, as the country continues to experience protests in all the major cities.  Instead of attacking one political party or the other, these protests are focused on changing the mindset of Iraqi politics, and ending the tradition of patronage, bribery, nepotism, and other forms of corruption that have long been part of all levels of government.  The focus isn't singularly on the cabinet level positions, as calls are made for changes in provincial and local governmental structure as well.  Abadi is prudent to respond with examples of real reform, as up to now the proposed changes will only strengthen the position of President.  The Iraqi political system has complicated government efforts to recruit, train and deploy troops, as each separate province looks to redefine its own authority.

There has been little news from Ramadi in recent days, as questions are raised about the probability of success in the operation.  The Iraqi Security Forces, which include the Army and the Police, have been careful to consolidate gains and search for booby traps before deciding to push forward.  In the past, initial successes have been followed up by a number of high-casualty incidents involving booby traps and other explosives.  The ISF and its allies in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) vastly outnumber the ISIS fighters in Ramadi and Fallujah.  Some estimates have the total number of ISIS personnel in Anbar Province to be less than 10,000.  ISIS multiplies its effectiveness through unconventional warfare, especially the use of SVBIEDS- suicide vehicular bombs/improvised explosive device.  Again, the effort to retake Ramadi and Fallujah, and also consolidate its position in Baiji, includes the methodical inspection of all vehicles, to prevent an SVBIED attack from succeeding.  The detailed, organized approach to this offensive may be an indication that the Iraqi leaders intend to push ISIS out of Anbar Province completely.  The events of the next week will be a strong indication of just how much progress has been made.  Keep in mind, ISIS continues to press home its attacks on Haditha, whose fall would be a serious blow to the Iraqi Sunni community, if not necessarily strategically important.

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