Iraq’s parliament yesterday referred to the judiciary a report calling for the trial of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki and dozens of other top officials in connection with the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State group last year, two lawmakers said.
Lawmaker Mohamed al-Karbouli said the vote in parliament was taken by a show of hands and passed by a majority.
He said the report was now due to go to the public prosecutor and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who has the right to refer officers for court martial.
The panel’s report, the most drastic step yet taken by Baghdad to provide accountability for the loss of nearly a third of the country’s territory to the insurgency, alleges that al-Maliki had an inaccurate picture of the threat to the northern city because he chose commanders who engaged in corruption and failed to hold them accountable.
There has been no official accounting for how Mosul was lost, or of who gave the order to abandon the fight.
Al-Maliki has accused unnamed countries, commanders and rival politicians of plotting the city’s fall.
The report’s findings also placed responsibility for the fall of the city on Mosul Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi, former acting Iraqi defense minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi, former army chief General Babakir Zebari and Lieutenant General Mahdi al-Gharrawi, former operational commander of Nineveh Province, of which Mosul is the capital.
Others accused include Nineveh police commander Major General Khalid Hamdani, former Iraqi deputy interior minister Adnan al-Assadi, former army intelligence chief Lieutenant General Hatam al-Magsousi and three other Kurdish members of the Iraqi security forces.
The seizure of Mosul in June last year by the Islamic State, previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as it swept across the Syrian border and declared a modern “caliphate,” highlighted the failings of a governing system defined largely by ethno-sectarian party patronage.
While Baghdad’s forces have regained ground, the jihadists still hold much of western Iraq, including the city of Ramadi, which they seized in May after government forces had held out against militants there for more than a year.
In related news, al-Abadi on Sunday announced the removal of 11 of 33 Cabinet posts, the first concrete step in a reform drive to curb corruption and streamline the government.
Al-Abadi rolled out a reform program a week ago in response to popular pressure from weeks of protests against corruption and poor services, and to a call for drastic change from Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Parliament approved Abadi’s plan along with additional measures two days later, but a major gap remains between announcements and implementation.
Al-Abadi has scrapped three deputy premier positions, three ministries and a minister without portfolio, and merged four more ministries with others, his office said on Sunday.
It is unclear whether the scrapped ministries — human rights and the ministries of state for women’s affairs and for provincial and parliamentary affairs — will continue in another form, or will be done away with altogether.
Al-Sistani on Aug. 7 called for al-Abadi to take “drastic measures” against corruption, saying the “minor steps” he had announced were not enough.
The calls for change by al-Sistani, who is revered by millions, have shielded as well as influenced al-Abadi’s efforts, as it is politically risky for rival Shiite politicians to publicly oppose measures called for by the top cleric.
However, even with popular support and al-Sistani’s backing, the entrenched nature of corruption in Iraq and the fact that parties across the political spectrum benefit from it will make any efforts to curb it extremely difficult.
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