Iraq’s Minister of Defense Khaled al-Obeidi received a no-confidence vote Thursday in the Iraqi Parliament, which is the latest sign of major cracks in the Obama administration’s Anti-ISIS strategy.
President Barack Obama has based his entire anti-ISIS mission on training and supporting the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Under Obama’s mission, the U.S. has to provide unwavering political and military support to Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi and his government. Abadi has made it a point to heal the sectarian divides in Baghdad that many see as the spark of ISIS’s rise in the first place.
Obeidi’s no-confidence vote happened under dubious circumstances, which could be used to take out the entire Iraqi government. The Institute for the Study of War noted Thursday that “the vote was rendered by a simple majority, while the Constitution stipulates that dismissing a minister requires a vote of absolute majority.” The think tank continues “All ministerial positions – including the Prime Minister – are at risk if only a simple majority is required for no confidence.”
Worse, ISW notes that the new Iraqi Minister of Defense could be less helpful to the U.S. and its interests against ISIS. The departure from absolute majority rules could even lead to a compromise candidate which could be “more receptive to Iranian interests than those of the U.S.”
Obeidi’s removal comes just two months before the U.S. is expected to begin its major push against the ISIS held city of Mosul. The terrorist group stunned the world with its seizure of Mosul in 2014 and looted nearly 400 million dollars from the city’s bank. The seizure of Mosul by the Iraqi Security Forces would mark a major event in the U.S. war effort against ISIS.
If the Iraqi government crumbles before operations against Mosul begin, Iraq will likely descend into pure chaos. Reports indicate former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is leading the effort behind Obeidi’s removal, and wants his job back. Maliki’s return would likely break Iraq’s political institutions, and create a void ISIS would thrive in.
Maliki is almost single-handedly responsible for much of the chaos in Iraq today. Ali Khadery, the longest serving U.S. diplomat in Iraq, wrote in 2014 that after the U.S. withdrew “Maliki broke nearly every promise he made to share power with his political rivals,” just as he had warned the Obama administration in 2010. Khadery continues, “under these circumstances, renewed ethno-sectarian civil war in Iraq was not a possibility. It was a certainty.”
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