New Iraqi Government Making Big Changes

The new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is working to dismantle the network of corruption and sectarian strife sown by his predecessor in the military ranks, a senior OSD nominee told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Elissa Slotkin, speaking at her nomination hearing to be the next assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said al-Abadi is steadily “deconstructing” corruption in the military, to include more dismissals of senior military officers. He recently announced to the nation’s parliament that some of the dismissed generals kept up to 50,000 “ghost” soldiers on the books—troops whom did not actually exist —and pocketed the funds for themselves. The US is no longer providing salaries for Iraqi troops, but is proposing “capability training” through advisers to enable more effective offensive operations, Slotkin said. In addition, the Baghdad government has worked to repair relations with two key groups: the Sunni tribes in Anbar Province and Iraqi Kurds. Slotkin said Iraqis flew C-130s with equipment to Kurdistan earlier this year to resupply Kurdish fighters, and a second delivery of gear to include vehicles and heavy anti-tank weapons has been delivered. “They’re getting the equipment they need,” she said. (Slotkin prepared testimony.)