Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is little but “another sectarian Iran proxy, just like [Nouri] al-Maliki,” Iraq’s previous prime minister, a regular blogger to the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine wrote on Tuesday.
The US helped Maliki become prime minister in 2006, but by 2014, when the Islamic State (IS) attacked Iraq, he was seen as a Shia partisan, whose sectarian policies had contributed to IS’ emergence and its conquest of one-third of the country.
As a condition of US support for the fight against IS, Washington demanded Maliki’s resignation, replacing him with his deputy—Abadi.
The State Department, charged now with executing US policy in Iraq, has embraced Abadi as the man who can contain Iran in Iraq. Foreign Policy echoed the State Department’s position last month when it named Abadi as one of the 100 most prominent global thinkers of 2017.
In explaining why it chose Abadi for the honor, Foreign Policy made a fundamental mistake. It asserted: Iraq’s “prime minister is already gearing up for his re-election campaign in the spring of 2018.”
Abadi was never elected Iraqi prime minister, so he cannot be re-elected! Abadi simply replaced Maliki, when the US insisted that he step down.
As a Kurdish member of Iraq’s parliament remarked to Kurdistan 24, in the last Iraqi elections—in April 2014—just before IS’ onslaught into Iraq began, Abadi received only 4,000 votes. That is a small number.
And, Rachel Avraham, a regular contributor to “Foreign Policy Blogs,” strongly criticized the magazine’s decision to honor the Iraqi Prime Minister as a significant global thinker.
“Under Abadi,” the Kurdistan Region “is gravely suffering” after 180,000 Kurds “were forced to run for their lives when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iraqi Army, and the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces invaded” the city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas.
“Following their invasion,” Avraham writes, “the Iraqi Army and its allies have been kidnaping, gang raping, and arresting people” whom they regard as Kurdish nationalists.
The Kurdistan Region hosts 1.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees from IS, including many Christians and Yezidis. Their numbers have swelled the population of Kurdistan by 30 percent, and their humanitarian needs have imposed a significant financial burden on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Baghdad has contributed “zero funds” to support the IDPs and refugees, even as its seizure of Kirkuk and its oil has cut the revenues of the KRG in half, Avraham noted.
Moreover, Abadi has imposed an embargo on international flights to the Kurdistan Region’s two major airports “making it difficult for other countries to send humanitarian aid to Kurdistan,” while imposing further economic hardship on the Region.
“If Abadi was a unifier of Iraq and not a sectarian dictator,” Avraham asked, “why has he refused to have any dialogue with the Kurds?”
“Why has he imposed such a brutal blockade on the Kurds, just for expressing their democratic rights” in their independence referendum?
“Why does he have his forces arrest, kidnap, and gang rape Kurdish citizens?”
Indeed, Avraham suggested that Abadi is no great thinker at all, but is most comparable to “Maliki, Bashar al-Assad, Ayatollah Khomeini, Ismail Haniyeh, or any other Iranian-backed sectarian dictator.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany