Haider al-Abadi says majority of IS fighters are foreigners
Paris : Iraq’s leader pleaded for more global support in the fight against the Islamic State group as he outlined plans to claw back territory from the jihadists in crunch talks with his allies in Paris.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hit out at the global community for its “failure” to roll out sufficient support, after the shock loss of the key city of Ramadi that sparked blame-trading between members of the US-led coalition carrying out air raids against the jihadists.
The meeting of some 20 coalition ministers comes as Iraq is trying to win back control of Ramadi, whose seizure by IS militants two weeks ago struck the biggest blow to the coalition since it began striking jihadist positions in August. US Pentagon chief Ashton Carter blamed Iraqi forces for the loss, saying there was “an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight”, in comments that angered Baghdad. Abadi, who is to outline his plans to liberate the Sunni province of Anbar and its capital Ramadi, is also facing pressure for Baghdad to be more inclusive of the Sunni minority – seen as key to winning the battle.
But the Iraqi prime minister wants more from his partners, saying most of the IS fighters who have seized large swathes of Iraq were now foreign and therefore an “international problem.”
“There is a lot of talk of support for Iraq, there is very little on the ground,” Abadi said. He said that until recently, around six out of 10 fighters were Iraqi and the remainder foreign, whereas the proportion was now reversed. The international community has to explain “why so many terrorists are from Saudi Arabia, why so many from the Gulf, why so many from Egypt, why so many from Syria, and Turkey and from European countries?”
His criticism came as IS claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on an Iraqi police base north of Baghdad yesterday that killed at least 37 people, mostly officers.
While the focus of the meeting is the crisis in Iraq, a high-placed French diplomat said it was “obviously also an occasion to talk about Syria.”