Iraq sees in ISIS advance ‘a failure for the whole world’

Friday 29/05/2015
Abadi: There is very little support on the ground

PARIS - The advance of the Islamic State group in Iraq is a "failure" for the whole world, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday, hitting back at US criticism of the loss of Ramadi to the jihadist group.

He said Iraq "needs all the support of the world" to counter the jihadist advance, but "we are not getting much. I think this is a failure on the part of the world... There is a lot of talk of support for Iraq, there is very little on the ground."

Abadi, in Paris for a crunch international meeting to refine strategy against the jihadist group, also urged the international community to help Iraq purchase weapons to fight the jihadists, saying the country had received "almost none. We are relying on ourselves."

"Because of our fiscal problems, we were not able to get into new contracts for arms supply. Most contracts were done in the previous government with the Russians," he said.

"The Russians are under sanctions now by the US, so we are finding it very difficult to pay for these arms to get them. The money is there sitting in the bank, but we cannot get them" (the weapons).

Abadi said sanctions also stopped Baghdad buying arms from neighbouring Iran.

"We are not asking for arms, but please let us purchase arms easily."

The Iraqi leader also hit back at accusations by the US defence chief that security forces dodged the battle in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's largest province Anbar that fell to IS last month in the worst defeat Baghdad has suffered in almost a year.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said the city fell to the militants because Iraqi forces -- despite strength in numbers -- were not mentally ready for battle.

"What apparently happened was the Iraqi forces showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered, and they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and they failed to fight and withdrew from the site," Carter told CNN last month.

"That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves," he said, using an alternative name for the group.

Abadi rubbished the comments, saying that during the Iraq war in 2004, the city of "Fallujah was lost when there were 160,000 US soldiers in Iraq with massive US capabilities, and they had to fight back to get it."

He insisted "Iraqis are prepared to fight" and said he was "investigating why some local commanders issued commands for the forces to withdraw" during the IS attack on the city.

Abadi said the move was likely to "protect their own forces", adding that small numbers of IS fighters took control of mosques, using their loudspeakers to issue threats against troops, striking fear into the population and security forces.