Rafik Hariri Center Nonresident Fellow Ramzy Mardini writes for the National on the tough choices facing Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi:
Despite the threat posed by ISIL, the real danger to Haider Al Abadi’s authority lies within Iraq’s political scene. The layers of conflicting interests and disputes that have been built up over the past decade are considerable and will test the Iraqi prime minister considerably.
In Washington, the conventional narrative is that Mr Al Abadi is the antithesis to Nouri Al Maliki, his predecessor – committed to stamping out corruption within Iraq’s institutions and redirecting the country’s strategic orientation closer to the US, while also planning to mend Baghdad’s relations with the Arab world and integrate Sunni and Kurdish factions into an inclusive government.
In many ways, Mr Al Abadi’s actions reflect the hopeful expectations that the West have for him. Over the past month, he has sacked 50 senior officials from Iraq’s military and security institutions. Earlier this month, he announced that Iraq allegedly paid up to 50,000 “ghost” soldiers a month and said he would challenge those benefiting from a corrupt system. “I am moving forward with reform to expose [ghost soldiers],” he said. “Campaigns were launched to topple me … However, I will not back off, even if [this] leads to my assassination.”