Iraq PM Haider al-Abadi pledges to unify Iraq in fight against ISIL

World Today

When Haider al-Abadi took over as Iraq’s Prime Minister in September, many had hopes for change in Iraq. Al-Abadi inherited a bitterly divided nation from his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds long felt marginalized by al-Maliki, a Shiite. They also accuse the former leader of committing abuses against political rivals. CCTV America’s Frances Kuo reported this story from Washington D.C.

The Sunni extremist group rampaged through northern Iraq in June and now controls about a third of the country and neighboring Syria. To battle ISIL, al-Abadi has reached out to leaders in the United States and the Middle East, including those who clashed with al-Maliki.

Iraq PM Haider al-Abadi pledges to unify Iraq in fight against ISIL

When Haider al-Abadi took over as Iraq's Prime Minister in September, many had hopes for change in Iraq. Al-Abadi inherited a bitterly divided nation from his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Iraq's Sunnis and Kurds long felt marginalized by al-Maliki, a Shiite. They also accuse the former leader of committing abuses against political rivals.

“Neither the Iraqi government nor the entire international community is in a position to defend themselves against the Islamic State. This is a terrorist organization; they have an international network. Therefore we need international support to fight them,” al-Abadi said.

The ISIL threat has also helped promote greater unity within Iraq.

Al-Abadi is trying to train fighters from Sunni tribes, and has pledged his support of Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting ISIL in the north.

On the political front, al-Abadi appointed Kurds and Sunnis to key cabinet posts to try to reflect a more representative government.

In a signature move earlier this month, al-Abadi’s government struck a major deal with the Kurds: the government will control oil exports from their semi-autonomous territory.

In exchange, Iraq will restore crucial federal funding to the Kurds. It’s a step many hope will boost Iraq’s faltering economy.

Al-Abadi is also trying to purge another remnant of al-Maliki’s term, corruption.

He’s vowed to crack down on 50,000 so-called ‘ghost soldiers’, those who receive military paychecks without showing up for duty. As part of the campaign, he’s also sacked several high-ranking military officials.