Iraq: Shia militia leader says Abadi must deliver reforms

Iraq: Shia militia leader says Abadi must deliver reforms
PM Abadi must bring about comprehensive reforms to government a top Shia paramilitary leader has said, and accused Washington of not being serious about fighting the Islamic state group [IS].
3 min read
06 October, 2015
Ameri said Abadi must fulfill his promises. [Getty]
A powerful Popular Mobilisation Forces commander has called for wide-ranging political reforms in Iraq and accused the US and Europe of not being serious about fighting the Islamic state group [IS].

Hadi al-Ameri said on Monday during a press conference in Najaf that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi must bring about serious changes to government along with his promised reform package aimed at tackling corruption, al-Araby’s Arabic service reported.

"The only way to bring about reform is one of these three options: form a new government, reshuffle the cabinet or hold early elections," said the head of the Badr Organisation.

     We must critically examine all the political bodies
- Hadi al-Ameri
"I am for comprehensive reform in the state’s legal, executive, judiciary and security institutions. We must critically examine all the political bodies," he added.

On Friday, thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Baghdad and several other cities, urging the government to deliver on promised reforms.

Iraqis have been staging weekly demonstrations since July. The protest movement that stemmed from exasperation over power cuts in the searing summer heat gradually led to broader demands for political reform.

Abadi, with backing from the country's most revered Shia religious cleric, announced a reform package but change has been slow to materialise.

'Not serious'

The paramilitary leader also said that Baghdad had turned to Russia because the US-led coalition was not serious about fighting IS.

"To this day, we have not seen a really serious effort to fight IS," Ameri said.

"There are some who try to contain IS but not really eliminate them and prevent those fighters from returning to Europe, which is where they came from," he added.

      The Popular Mobilisation Forces are state-sponsored militias [Getty]
Ameri is part of the Badr Organisation, a Tehran-backed party which also has a powerful military wing. He was speaking at a conference organised by Badr's al-Ghadeer television channel.

"This lack of seriousness of the international coalition made us change tack. Russia is moving in a very serious way against Daesh," he said.

Russian warplanes began air raids in Syria last week.

Moscow says it has been targeting IS, but Washington and its allies say Russia does not distinguish between IS and other groups and accuses the Kremlin of being focused on protecting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

The government in Baghdad has said it might consider allowing Russia to bomb IS targets in Iraq as well.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition responded to Ameri comments, saying that it had spent $2.3 billion to train and equip thousands of Iraqi forces over the past year.

Colonel Steve Warren said the US-led coalition - which also includes France and Britain - has conducted 7,276 strikes on Iraq and Syria since August 2014.

He added that the equipment has included 2,000 AT-4 anti-tank missiles, 2,000 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, 300 Mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles and more than 10,000 M16 assault rifles.