Iraqi prime-minister Nuri al-Maliki succumbed to both internal and international pressure on Thursday, when he announced he would be stepping down from the post, giving his full support for successor Dr Haider Al-Abadi. The move comes in light of an increasing threat in Northern Iraq, where the Islamic State group are attempting to expand its self style ‘caliphate’.
According to Gazwan Aldafai, a Middle East analyst at Cross Border Information, al-Maliki’s decision would likely prove a positive step for the country, particularly since his successor, Dr al-Abadi, appeared to have the support of the international community.
He said it was imperative that al-Abadi implemented a system whereby the various communities in Iraq, specifically in the North, were allowed to govern themselves in a federalist system.
“He will be looking to make some constructive changes in the way Iraq is led, especially in this wake of the IS,” he said.
Describing al-Maliki as a divisive leader, Aldafai suggested that many communities in Iraq had felt disenfranchised by his government. He suspected this may have paved the way for the rise of rebel groups such as the IS.
“IS is a by-product of both the divisive leadership in Baghdad, and negligence on the part of the international community, namely the United States administration,” he said.
In Northern Iraq, the Kurdish military, known as the Peshmerga, have been locked in an intense battle to contain the IS threat. However, the Peshmerga have so far proven to be ill-equipped to deal with the crisis, resulting in a proposal by a number of European countries provide the group with much needed arms.
Aldafai suspected the Western concern may have been motivated by the fact that the IS were now closing in on some of their interests in the region, including the massive oil reserves in Kurdistan.
“Many U.S companies, including Exxon Mobile, have strong interests in the Kurdish region. For the sustainability of Kurdistan in the long haul, these assets need to be secured,” he said.
Addressing the US’s involvement, Aldafai suggested there were many within the US administration who felt bound by honour to address the issue of IS. However, he questioned whether those amongst the top leadership, specifically President Barrack Obama, were really that keen to get involved in Iraq again.
“Logically, without troops on the ground you would need a very strong presence from the Iraqi security forces to push against the IS. With strong military support from the US, this would at a best rate be a very long struggle,” he said.
He suggested the best manner in which the IS threat could be quelled, was with a unified effort between the forces in the region itself, as well as the support of the international community. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)