Bullets target a plane and confidence in Baghdad

Will we see Abadi fighting for his government, state, country and mainly for himself?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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Three bullets hit a Flydubai jet at Baghdad airport last week causing the suspension of not only many flights to the Iraqi capital, but the suspension of hope and international confidence in the Iraqi government and its ability to control the country. It will time before the major airlines resume flights and transfer thousands of passengers and cargo to and from the Iraqi capital, which plays a major role in strengthening confidence in the regime and state institutions. Much more needs to be done than increasing the airport's defenses and securing its surroundings. The problem now lies in the shaken confidence caused by the government's inability and weakness.

Official Iraqi statements did not dissolve concerns because they were obviously trying to deny what happened, saying that it is an accidental incident and the wind caused the diversion of the plane’s landing, among other excuses. Had the shooting occurred in a city outside conflict zones, it might have been an accident, but the bullets deliberately targeted the plane; it was not a weapon used in a wedding ceremony or march, as one official said.

Is the capital safe? Is Iraq less secure today than it was a year ago? The incident awakened old fears of ISIS storming Baghdad along with terrorist forces allied to it; those concerns emerged last year.

What is more serious than the targeted shooting of the passenger jet, is the inability of the Iraqi leadership and politicians; they are still discussing the security decisions that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged to achieve since last September, such as the establishment of the National Guard.

Will we see Abadi fighting for his government, state, country and mainly for himself?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Months have passed and two Iraqi cities are still under ISIS control, Mosul and Tikrit, along with about one quarter of the Iraqi territories occupied or threatened by the terrorist organization.

When seven foreign airlines suspend their flights to the capital's airport, it reflects the concerns regarding the situation and not just one single incident. It reflects the discomfort regarding the inability of the government to accomplish its promises to fight terrorism in accordance with the program that was announced after Abadi took office. The popular mobilization, which is a quasi-governmental and sectarian militia, was founded in one day, but the National Guard, which is supposed to fight terrorist groups, is still under a Byzantine discussion.

If the Iraqi government does not prove its seriousness and ability to lead the country and unite all forces, provinces and communities, it will definitely lose the battle against terrorism. Iraqis have to learn from the disintegration and collapse of the situation in neighboring Syria.

It is a collapse resulting from the weakness of the central government. What is even more serious is the conviction of the Syrian people that the authorities no longer represent them, and this is what helped in the spread of sedition. Therefore, trusting the government’s ability and good intentions are two main prerequisites to restore both internal and external confidence in the country. Will we see Abadi fighting for his government, state, country and mainly for himself?

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on January 31, 2015.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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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