Iraq’s armed forces were not trained to fight

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By Fatih Abdulsalam

Azzaman, June 11, 2014

It is indeed shocking to see senior Iraqi officials saying that the collapse of Iraqi troops and police forces in the city of Mosul and other towns took them by the surprise.

Tens of thousands of troops left their weapons, tank,s armored personnel carriers and vehicles behind and fled once a few hundred Jihadists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) approached their position.

Iraqi officials’ expressions of bewilderment and surprise should deceive no one.

An army that has been built on the lines of sectarian divisions, merger of militias and showering of ranks on whims and wishes and commanded by conflicting political leaderships will have no ability to act in a professional military manner to protect major towns with their inhabitants.

These officials want Iraqis to believe them that an army with ranks filled with corruption and sectarianism and infiltrated by armed militias will put a fight and have the power to defend the country and liberate it from terror.

Corruption has established deep roots in the state and among the highest ranks and the military is no exception. Has anyone, anywhere, ever read or heard of a corruptive army putting a fight to protect its national soil.

The collapse of the Iraqi armed forces in the Province of Nineveh of which Mosul is the capital cannot be interpreted by linking the defeat to any conspiracy theory.

This big defeat is easily explainable through a simple equation. The army bears no traces of national unity and the idea of Iraq as one nation was not there in building it.

The army’s main task has been arbitrary arrests and storming houses and quarters of its own people. How can one expect the Iraqi people to respect such any army and its rank and file.

Therefore, it was no surprise to see members of the armed forces and police corps taking off their checkered uniforms and surrender their weapons on hearing the first shots from ISIS.

It has been a despicable and humiliating spectacle of army personnel fleeing to backstreets, abandoning their weapons and camps, at a time their weaponry was said to be similar to that of U.S. marines.

The authorities have played on the nerves of the hapless Iraqi people by investing in an army that in reality was not there to serve the national flag.

Thus on their first encounter with real fight, the scenes from the streets of Mosul and other towns turned the authorities and their armed forces into a laughingstock.

Some scenes showed Iraqi soldiers exchanging their weapons for civilian clothes in order to be able to mix with fleeing refugees and ordinary to save their skin and return safely to their families.

Iraq does not have a professional, national army that is led by professional military commanders willing to sacrifice their life for the nation. The collapse of the armed forces in the face of a few hundreds jihadists is therefore no surprise.