Iraqi Prime Minister: ISIS advance ‘is being reversed'

Thu, Jan 22, 2015

by Madalena Araujo

The extreme Islamist group ISIS is being pushed back, the Iraqi Prime Minister told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

He said “the onslaught of Daish has been reversed, not fully but is being reversed, it’s in the opposite direction now, I think that’s very important.”

Representatives from member countries of the US-led coalition fighting ISIS gathered in London on Thursday to discuss their coordinated effort against the terrorist group, which has claimed large swathes of Syria and Iraq.

Haider al-Abadi said that with continued support from the alliance, ISIS could be forced out of Iraq in a matter of months.

“If we’re talking about eliminating Daish from the face of the Earth, I think that will take a long time, but If we are talking about pushing Daish out of Iraq, that can take months. I think we have the capability now, with enough support from the international coalition - I have to be very blunt about this, we need this support, the support is essential.”

The 21-country alliance is currently providing Iraq with airstrikes, artillery as well as special forces advisers, who are assisting the country’s military on the ground.

“There was a very slow start in the first three months, but over the last month I’ve seen a speedup because we have called for more support. There has been a speedup of these deliveries.”

“I can see there is a consistency of the air campaign against Daish, there has been an increase of this bombing of Daish locations, there has been a very well liaising and coordination between our ground forces and the air cover which is provided for our own ground forces.”

Amanpour asked the Iraqi leader about the Mosul Liberation forces currently operating in the country’s second largest city, which was seized by ISIS in June.

“This battalion has already been formed. There’s a leadership, I’ve appointed a commander for that and [a] deputy for him. I allocated the force and the sources for them to work together, and I think they’re doing a great job; A) they are recruiting locals from the area, and I think there is eagerness from the locals to join us.”

“Everything must move together when we’re ready, when that road is controlled, when we have enough battalions in place so that we can have the final blow to Daish in Mosul. It may happen very swiftly and very quickly as we have seen in many areas, where we had prepared for a long fight, and it took only two days for us to finish that fight.”

There were high hopes for Haider al-Abadi when he was designated as Prime Minister in August.

“I think we have made a very bold outreach in the last four months, it was very successful, but the challenges are great. It will not be soon, it will take some time but we have made the change on the ground, a lot of the fighters in al Anbar [province] are fighting with the Iraq security forces.”

Neighboring Syria is dealing with both ISIS as well as a nearly four-year-old civil war that has claimed more than 191,000 lives, according to the U.N.

Haider al-Abadi said the only way to solve the crisis is by finding a political way out.

The “only way to do it”, he said, “[is] not through arming some other groups in Syria, not to make the flow of arms easier for Syria, because that will only contribute to the continuation of the infighting in Syria, but to find a political solution.”

“I can see because some countries had solidly supported what’s happening in Syria, at the moment is very hard for them to cramp down, but I think we have to be brave enough to come forward, and we must come together to find a solution, a political solution.”

Amanpour also asked the Iraqi Prime Minister how much the fall in oil prices has hurt Iraq’s attempt to raise its army and meet budget requirements.

“I think it’s catastrophic to be honest with you, in all accounts. The prices of oil we have been selling it for this month is 40 percent of what we [were] selling before, and if you remember that our budget relies 85 percent on oil you can see the disaster we are facing. This is not normal economy at the moment.”

To read the full piece from CNN, click here.