Soldiers from Iraq’s embattled army are joining the migrants fleeing the Middle East for Europe.
“Scores” of Iraqi servicemen have abandoned their homeland for good, seeking a better life in Europe and leaving Iraq to fend for itself against Islamic State and other security challenges, according to Reuters. (RELATED: Top Iraqi Officer Was ON VACATION When ISIS Moved In Last Year)
Abandonment is just the latest display of structural weakness in the country’s military. Last summer, soldiers famously left their posts when Islamic State first captured Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
An Iraqi military spokesman told Reuters that the defectors from Iraq’s military only numbered in the “tens” out of a force “estimated to be in the tens of thousands.” But Reuters’ interviews with migrants across Europe suggest a far greater number of migrant soldiers.
Haidar al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, has spent his first year in office aggressively fighting against corruption and mistrust in the army. Sunnis especially are wary of an increasingly Shiite-dominated government and officer corps, and are less likely than ever to see the national army as a force worth fighting for.
Besides endemic lack of cohesion, the Iraqi army continues to be characterized by inexplicably poor management. Last month, an Islamic State car bomb killed two Iraqi generals, who were far closer to the battle lines against the jihadi group than strategy required. (RELATED: ISIS Suicide Attack Kills 2 Generals, On Front Lines For Some Reason)
In response to the hobbled military, Abadi has backed unofficial Shiite militias, backed by Iran, as one of the most effective government-sanctioned forces against Islamic State. But this has only driven Sunnis further away from Abadi, and has brought the militia’s unscrupulous and sometimes unethical battlefield tactics into the public view.
An estimated 50,000 Iraqis have left the country in the last three months.
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