A SOS plea from Iraq’s Salim al-Jabouri

I was really not that aware of the risky situation in terror-plagued Iraq until after attending a recent news conference by Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri here in Amman. The Islamist Sunni politician expressed distress about the quick advancements of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) into his country. There was unmistakable dismay in his statements over the inadequate support Iraq was receiving from neighbors and friends in its war against ISIS and radicalism. Jabouri, indeed, frightened us journalists when he warned with confidence that terror would reach all Iraq’s neighbors if ISIS was not defeated in his “always-at-war” country. Diplomatic euphemisms aside, such feelings were not difficult to establish from Jabouri’s brief statements and answers to journalists.

That his country is unable to fight ISIS alone, Jabouri said he had requested Jordan offer Iraq assistance in its war efforts against terror. During a joint presser with Jordanian Lower House Speaker Atef al-Tarawneh, Jabouri said: "We look forward for a Jordanian role in empowering the Iraqi institutions to counter terrorism and radicalism.” He also expressed hope that Jordan would contribute to training the Iraqi security forces battling terrorism. Meeting also with Jordan’s King Abdullah and Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, Jabouri also asked for the kingdom’s help in Iraq’s anti-ISIS war, emphasizing that the entire region would be immune to radicalism once terrorists – meaning ISIS – were defeated in Iraq.

Jabouri’s request has been definitely received positively by Jordanian officials. This is what was emphasized in the press releases distributed to the media which conveyed Jordan’s commitment to fighting terrorists and radical ideologies.

The issue of Iraq’s request for Jordanian military assistance was no doubt discussed in detail during closed-door meetings between Jabouri and Jordanian officials, including the nature and potential scope of such envisioned support.

But the question is not that important regarding how Jordan would provide Iraq’s security forces with military training to combat ISIS inasmuch as why Jordan?

If one day Jordan decides to provide military training to Iraqi forces, I would expect this to take place in the security-concerned kingdom. But Jordan one day putting boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria is still very unlikely in my estimation unless such a decision is taken collectively by the U.S.-led anti-ISIS alliance in which Amman is an active member. In fact, King Abdullah made such an issue clear during his meeting with Jabouri when he said: “Jordan is committed, alongside the different parties in the international alliance, to fighting terrorists.”

Plus, Jordan, as a strategic U.S. ally, is not expected to act unilaterally on the issue of training Iraqi forces or sending trainees or troops to Iraq, aside from having the matter fully deliberated, coordinated and approved by Washington. That is why maybe Jabouri has come to Jordan. It might be his dilemma too. This is all regarding how Jordan would likely offer assistance to Iraq.

Now with regard to why from Jordan Jabouri has sought a military assistance, it is due I think to Iraq’s weariness over President Obama’s administration’s inadequate military support, hesitance and procrastination on Iraq. I am sure that Jabouri has come to Amman with the image in his mind about President Obama being a “hesitant war leader.”

With ISIS advancements again into the Iraqi cities of Anbar and Mosul, coupled with the deteriorating situation of the Iraqi security forces, the U.S. administration has not yet decided on any decisive military measures to help the Iraqis regain balance on the ground.

Raed Omari

 

In fact, the insufficiency of U.S. support to Iraq has been a matter of complaint not only to Jabouri but to Baghdad as well. After President Obama unveiled his plan to send 1,500 military trainees, Iraq’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement, welcoming the move but describing it as a “little late.”

With ISIS advancements again into the Iraqi cities of Anbar and Mosul, coupled with the deteriorating situation of the Iraqi security forces, the U.S. administration has not yet decided on any decisive military measures to help the Iraqis regain balance on the ground except for the 1,500 additional troops and air strikes which are proving every day to be insufficient at eliminating or at least cornering ISIS. The Americans themselves have admitted that ISIS has scored substantial gains in Iraq yet indecisiveness persists.

If one day Jordan decides to provide military training to Iraqi forces, I would expect this to take place in the security-concerned kingdom.

Raed Omari

 

In the hopes maybe of “resurrecting” the effective “Sahawat” forces, which proved to be a reliable in the U.S. fight against Iraq’s Al-Qaeda in 2007, the White House recently raised the issue of arming Iraqi Sunni tribesmen in Anbar Province to stand up to ISIS.

Even such an issue has not yet been decided upon and even if it was, it is not going to be manifested in a new Sahawat movement. This is what an Iraqi politician told me, explaining that the Iraqi Sunni tribesmen are not that eager to form new forces as the leaders of the 2007-formed Sahawat have either been assassinated or jailed over terror-related charges.

Again, listening to Jabouri, I began building a different image of ISIS, not as a stereotypically embattled militia that is exploiting Iraq’s and Syria’s lawlessness and statelessness but as an organized army now moving with complete confidence amid American reluctance to take further military measures. At one point we thought ISIS had been cornered somewhere far in eastern Syria and western Iraq, the radical group is now reported to be marching again toward Mosul despite the months-long air strikes.

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Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via raed_omari1977@yahoo.com, or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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