Strong Propaganda, Weak Reality
After officially starting operation to retake the city of Mosul, it seems the Iraqi army cannot even control the nearby countryside, let alone the city of Mosul. It’s been a month since the operation began and yet the Iraqi government soldiers still haven’t been able to control a few villages near Makhmour, even with coalition air support and Peshmerga protecting them from behind the frontlines. Yet, in all this, Prime Minister Al-Abbadi has filled the airwaves with strong propaganda—attempts to distract from the real situation.
Al-Abbadi hasn’t been able to defeat ISIS in Anbar and there is news of serious starvation in Fallujah as a result of Iraqi army’s siege and ISIS’s terror. Some wonder if the Iraqi government itself may use this starvation as revenge to the people of Fallujah who consider themselves a symbol of armed struggle against the US Military and Iraqi government after 2003.
Al-Abbadi’s claim to solve the problems by forming a technocrat government has been so strongly applauded that both McGurk and Qassim Sulaimani have beefed up their support for the Prime Minister. This is unwise at a time deteriorates militarily and continues to collapse economically and politically. Iraq is functionally divided into three separate forces. Instead of solving fundamental, actual problems, Al-Abbadi is taking advantage of the crisis, drawing international sup- port, and creating an image for himself of the man of reform who alone can save Iraq from her crises.
Al-Abbadi’s makes strong remarks to the media. But actually liberating Mosul needs military and leadership prowess that goes farther than a TV interview. There must be a complete overhaul of the manner of governing if political and economic problems would get addressed. Al Abbadi has proven he isn’t ready for this, neither will a change in a “technocrat” government change this. Rather than seeing an overhaul of the politically bankrupt system, we are only witnessing a change of faces. Shiitization remains as strong as ever.
Although Al Abbadi’s politically motivated words about forming a technocratic government sounds nice, his practical steps reflect him building power around himself. Despite push back from the political parties, Abbadi presses on, claiming to wipe away all barriers to his political dream. In the end, he is the foremost of unsuccessful technocrats and should resign. He has failed militarily and economically. Politically he has escalated tensions between Kurds, Shias, and Sunnis. The solution isn’t more strong words on the media, but to actually do the work of governing and recognize realities on the ground (that a three-region solution may be best). More action and less talk, Abbadi.