PM Abadi meets new commanders in Baghdad. Photo: Rudaw
BAGHDAD – Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar Abadi fired 26 senior officers and named 18 new commanders on Wednesday in a major shakeup of the military intended to restore public trust in the army.
The move comes some six months after Iraqi units fled in the face of a takeover of much of the west of the country by a numerically inferior Islamic State force.
“Military commanders must be brave and loyal so that they can motivate their soldiers,” he said as he welcomed the new appointees.
He told them they had to restore trust in the armed forces that had been lost due to internal and external political pressures.
A statement posted on the prime minister’s website said the shakeup was part of efforts to reinforce the work of the military on the basis of professionalism and fighting graft in all its forms.
Associated Press quoted a government official as saying the sackings followed the findings of a probe carried out by an investigator appointed last month by Abadi to probe corruption in the military.
Abadi is commander-in-chief under the Iraqi constitution but, unlike his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki, he has appointed a defence minister. Maliki, now a vice-president, kept that office for himself during his two terms in office.
The Iraqi armed forces are engaged with ISIS on a number of fronts, aided by air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition. The army has more than a quarter of a million soldiers and twice as many reserves.