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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi continues pushing reforms, as 123 senior government officials are sacked.

Links: A. Abadi dismisses 123 senior government officials.
           B. Iraqi Deputy Justice Minister kidnapped.

Iraqi Prime Minister continues to exhibit a tremendous amount of determination and courage, as his administration has announced the dismissal of 123 senior officials from a number of different ministries.  Abadi has stressed that the reform agenda is not political, and has been careful to evenly distribute the dismissals so that one party does not stand out.  It will be interesting to see if the positions are eliminated altogether, or if there will be attempts to refill them in the future.  Abadi is determined to stick to his agenda, regardless of the saber-rattling on behalf of the various militia groups that have announced their opposition to the reforms.  Last week, eighteen Turkish workers were kidnapped in Baghdad while working on a stadium construction project.  Kata'ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Brigades) is strongly suspected of being responsible.  On Tuesday of this week, Iraq's Deputy Justice Minister, Fares Abdul-Karim al-Saadi, was kidnapped in broad daylight, the day after he opened an investigation into alleged human right abuses by militia groups.  Again, Kata'ib Hezbollah is suspected of involvement.  Its obvious that the militias are determined to erode the security in Baghdad, in order to discourage the pro-reform demonstrations and put into question the Abadi administration's ability to protect Iraqi citizens.

The purpose of the efforts at destabilization on behalf of the militias/Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) is to scuttle Abadi's attempts at reform.  The reforms intended by Abadi will deprive former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of much of his influence, as many of his supporters are finding their high-level government positions eliminated.  The militias finally decided to become involved when Abadi started pushing his National Guard Law, which would have placed the militias and all similar groups directly under the authority of the Iraqi government.  In other words, if Iran wants to send fighters to help in the struggle against ISIS, then great.  But while they are in Iraq, they come under the authority of Baghdad, not Tehran.  Under pressure from the militias, who claimed that the National Guard Law was a conspiracy of "The United States, the Ba'ath Party, ISIS, and certain Arab countries", the Iraqi Parliament's Council of Representatives dropped the Bill.  Although the Iraqi government claims that it has authority over the militias regardless of the failure of the National Guard Law, the activities of Kata'ib Hezbollah in Baghdad and the Badr Group in Basra, highlight its limited control.

Fortunately, Abadi does not get easily discouraged.  He will continue to push through various aspects of the reform agenda, and do his best to counter-balance the efforts of the militias.  The majority of the members of the militias should be on the battlefield, as Fallujah was basically "assigned" to them.  They appear to have had just as much difficulty with their target as the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have had with Ramadi.  A major military victory at this moment would be very welcome, to unite the Iraqi people in celebration, and remind both pro and anti reform zealots that the real enemy is ISIS.  Hopefully the retaking of Ramadi is within sight.

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