THE new Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has announced that an investigation has uncovered that the Iraqi state was paying the wages of 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ whose wages were being pocketed by corrupt senior officials.
This revelation will come as no surprise either to Iraqis, or to the US and UK governments. The US in particular has spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, first of all to remove the Saddam Hussein regime, and then to put in place, and keep in place the most corrupt regime in Iraq’s recent history.
This regime simply put the billions of US dollars into its bank accounts.
The existence of 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ explains succintly just why the ISIS movement has been able to take huge chunks of northern and western Iraq, in many cases without a shot being fired.
Since taking office in September, Abadi has sacked or retired several top military commanders, and Sunday’s announcement was made to suggest that he intends to tackle the US-supported graft and patronage that swallowed billions of dollars.
‘This weeding out process will extend beyond the military to all state institutions,’ Abadi’s office said on Sunday.
However, the Iraqi government apparatus put into place after the 2003 war to smash Saddam Hussein was and remains rotten to the core. There will be no ‘miracle cure’ – it must be overthrown by the Iraqi people.
British and US policy is now to have a special relationship with the Kurdish regional government in the north, and to place more and more combat troops, including SAS forces, on the ground to try to make sure that any carve up of oil rich Mesopotamia will not take place outside of their control.
So far, it has emerged that the ISIS movement is manned by European Jihadi enthusiasts who had been encouraged to go to Syria by their governments to fight and remove Assad, but who have now moved on to new pastures in Iraq and the Turkish border after finding that the Assad government has the support of the majority of Syrians and is too tough a nut for them to crack.
These Jihadists were trained in US- and UK-backed camps in Turkey and Jordan, and are still being allowed across the border by Turkey to replace the ISIS soldiers who have been killed in the seige of Kobane. ISIS is still being financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia as their tool in the struggle to carve up Iraq and Syria.
Turkey refuses to close its border to ISIS and demands as a price for doing so, that a no-fly zone is established in Syria and that the campaign is re-launched to remove Assad. It says that Assad is the main enemy, and it is already purchasing oil from ISIS.
The Republican Party in the US also sees Assad as the main enemy and calls for US forces to be used to remove Assad.
Obama however is hesitating since it is not clear yet whether the US will be able to make a deal with Iran over its nuclear power, and Iran is Assad’s main regional ally.
US policy is now in the balance. The US and the UK are hovering over Mesopotamia like vultures, to try to make sure that they will have a major say in any redivision of the area, with its colossal oil resources. Having a clean regime in Baghdad is not one of their considerations!
In the wings are Qatar and Saudi Arabia supplying ISIS with millions, to pay its European troops, to make sure that the Gulf states get their share of any plundering of Iraq and Syria.
The Syrian and Iraqi masses are playing the decisive role in this struggle, and must have the support of the working people of the world. The Syrian masses remain determined that Assad will remain in power, while the Iraqi people, both Sunni and Shia, must unite to form a revolutionary government in Baghdad.
Any redrawing of the map of the region must be done by its peoples and see the emergence of a Middle East Federation of Socialist States, including the state of Palestine, that will see to it that the vast oil wealth of the region will be used for the benefit of its people.