Iraq’s Deputy PM: Iraqi Army’s Willingness to Let Ramadi Fall to ISIS ‘Surprised All of Us’

Hadi Mizban/AP
Hadi Mizban/AP
Washington, D.C.

Iraq’s prime minister and his deputy reacted differently to the conduct displayed by their country’s army in their fight against Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) jihadists in Ramadi.

“It’s not clear for us why such a unit, which was supposed to be trained by the Americans for years, and supposed to be one of the best units in the army, would withdraw from Ramadi in such a way,” said Iraq’s Deputy Primer Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq in an interview on CNN that aired Monday.

“This is not the army that we are willing to see or we are expecting to see,” he added. Mutlaq has been an ardent critic of Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite.

The deputy PM’s comments on CNN appeared to echo a scathing criticism of the Iraqi military by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “They were not outnumbered,” Carter told CNN. “In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight; they withdrew from the site.”

“And that says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis,” he added. Iraq’s PM responded by telling BBC on Monday that Carter was “fed with the wrong information.”

Meanwhile, Iraq’s deputy PM, referring to his country’s military, told CNN, ”If they don’t see the future for them in Iraq, I don’t think they will fight… ISIS, in the way we want them. There will be some fighting, but we want real determination, a real effort…”

“The Sunni people, they are not with ISIS, this is for sure,” he later added.

Mutlaq said the prime minister could be more inclusive, noting that Sunnis are still being sidelined from the country’s security structure.

“Although we feel that the intention of Mr. Abadi is good, is OK, but what we see on the ground until now is not enough to convince us that things are going to be working in a proper way,” said Iraq’s deputy PM.