Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki arrived in Samarra (60 miles north of Baghdad) Friday to deal with the continued insurgence of extremists in the country. The Iraqi Government granted Maliki extensive powers to confront the Sunni Muslim extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In response, the Prime Minister delivered a stern warning to the military troops who deserted their posts during the attacks in northern Iraq.
“Those who did nothing, and those who clearly abandoned their posts, let them not imagine that they escaped to [safety] in the houses of their families and mothers. Those found to have deserted would be prosecuted to the utmost, with punishments that rise to execution.”
Maliki is solidifying the strength of his leadership in the wake of the ISIS attacks. Iraqi state media reported thousands of young men enlisted to fight against the invasion of the ISIS in the region. Many young men being called on by religious Shiite leaders to fight in the volunteer army.
The ISIS, formerly affiliated with al-Qa’ida, invaded the border region of Iraq through Syria. They seized control of Mosul’s Central Bank and its control of 400 million dollars. Troops abandoned their posts leading the ISIS to seize control of Mosul (the hometown of Saddam Hussien), Bayji (the largest oil refinery in Iraq) and Tikrit (the provincial capital) . Following the attack Bayji’s oil refinery was shutdown and workers evacuated the city.
“Frankly, this was our chance to get rid of those cowards and weaklings. This is our opportunity to improve the army and purify it from these elements.”
Samarra is being hailed as a “launch pad to purify every inch that was sullied by the feet of those traitors”. Maliki has publically shamed troops who abandoned their post. Blaming them for the downfall of Mosul, Bayji, and Tikrit into enemy hands. Maliki is promising the arrival of “the masses of volunteers who had come to liberate the lands” to take back control of the region.
Many outsiders are speculating Maliki is further dividing the country by marginalizing the Sunni minority. Maliki, who has been in power since 2006, dismissed these claims as the fighting is not sectarian. Instead, Maliki seeks to unify the country and insists Iraqis will be fighting at a nation.
“We will talk the language of justice, we will talk the language of freedom, we will talk the language of all Iraqis regardless of sect.”
Nouri Maliki came to power in the first general election following the U.S. lead invasion in 2003. Maliki was exiled from Iraq for 24 years by Saddam Hussein’s regime. He is part of the Islamic Dawa Party that was outlawed by Saddam Hussein. After the toppling of Hussein’s Ba’ath government Maliki returned from exile, where he lived in Syria and Iran, and became Prime Minister in 2006. Maliki signed the death warrant of Saddam Hussein and denied his stay of execution citing, “Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him.”