The president of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Masoud Barzani, blamed former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki for the turmoil in the country where the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has recently gained more territory.
Barzani, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, said the previous Iraqi government, led by al-Maliki, a Shiite, “provided an environment for the sort of problems that we see in the Iraqi military,” reports NBC News.
The Kurdistan leader claimed the Iraqi government under al-Maliki “changed the national army to a more sectarian army, and those people that were supposed to fight for the country didn’t really have the cause.”
This sectarianism “was the main reason why the Iraqi military wasn’t able to succeed,” he added.
Last week, ISIS captured the city of Ramadi, capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province. Days later, the jihadist group overran the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, prompting criticism of America’s strategy to defeat ISIS, which involves U.S.-led airstrikes, leaving the fighting on the ground to local forces.
The Kurdistan president noted that the Iraqi military has been “unable to take the best advantage” of the U.S. support received so far.
“We are very grateful and thank the United States for the support that they provided to Kurdistan,” Barzani said. “Unfortunately in terms of the weapons, we have not really received the kind of equipment that we demand and is required to fight and defeat ISIS.”
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2016, approved by the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee, stipulated that 25 percent of the $715 million President Obama requested for security assistance to Iraqi forces be given directly to Kurdish and Sunni forces battling ISIS.
President Obama opposes that measure.
Barzani said there is a “misperception” about the directly arming the Kurds and hoped Obama will change its policy agains it, Rudaw reports.
The Obama administration insists on arming the Kurds through Iraq’s central government. However, since the war against ISIS began, the Kurds have complained about Iraq stalling deliveries.
At the World Economic Forum in Jordan, the Kurdistan president “expressed pride that Kurdish forces have been pushing back ISIS with relatively outdated weapons, compared to the Iraqi army, which has enjoyed substantial financial and military support from the United States and Iran,” notes Rudaw.
“Defeating ISIS is not easy. We have to all wait and see and hopefully they will be defeated in the future,” said President Barzani.
“It is not only a military challenge. We have to fight in other ways as well. We need to cut their supplies and roads; we need to fight them together. But what Kurdistan has done against ISIS, we are proud of,” he added.