Iraq’s ex-PM Maliki probed as Abadi presses reforms

Iraqi MPs said the former PM - whose vice presidency was recently abolished - and 35 others were to blame for losing Mosul to ISIS

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An Iraqi parliamentary investigation holds former premier Nouri al-Maliki and 35 others responsible for the fall of second city Mosul to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants last year, lawmakers said Sunday as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi continued to press reforms.

The report detailing findings of the investigation has been presented to parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi, who said it will be sent to the prosecutor general for legal action.

“No one is above the law and the questioning of the people, and the judiciary will punish those” responsible, Juburi said in a statement.

ISIS launched a devastating offensive on June 9 last year, overrunning Mosul the next day and then sweeping through large areas north and west of Baghdad.

Multiple Iraqi divisions collapsed during the initial assault in the north, in some cases abandoning weapons and other equipment that then fell into jihadist hands.

Maliki is widely viewed as having exacerbated sectarian tensions between the country’s Shiite majority and the Sunni Arab minority.

The news comes after Abadi approved on Sunday an investigative council's decision to refer military commanders to a court martial for abandoning their positions in the battle against ISIS militants in Ramadi.

The announcement came as Abadi pushes ahead with a sweeping reform campaign aimed at combating corruption and mismanagement in the biggest shake-up in the governing system since the U.S. military occupation.

Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province, fell to ISIS militants in May, dampening Baghdad's hopes of quickly routing them from the country's north and west following earlier victories in eastern provinces.

The army's collapse in June 2014 in the face of ISIS's takeover of the northern city of Mosul left the Baghdad government dependent on Shi'ite Muslim militias, many funded and assisted by neighboring Iran, to defend the capital and recapture lost ground.

Critics blamed the military's weakness on sectarian splits, corruption and politics.

The fall of Ramadi nearly a year later undermined Abadi's policy of keeping the militias on the sidelines in Anbar, the Sunni heartland, for fear of inflaming sectarian tensions. The militias are now fighting alongside the security forces in many places.

Abadi cuts 11 ministerial posts

Abadi on Sunday also ordered an immediate reduction in the number of ministers to 22 from 33, as part of a sweeping campaign to reduce corruption and mismanagement affecting the highest reaches of government.

Abadi moved to eliminate the three deputy prime minister positions as well as the minister of human rights, ministries of state for women’s affairs and provincial affairs, and another minister of state.

The ministry of science and technology will combine with the ministry of higher education and scientific research.

The ministries of health and environment will merge. The municipalities ministry will combine with the ministry of construction and housing. The ministry of tourism and antiquities will merge with the culture ministry.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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