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Iraqis Celebrate Army Day in Baghdad

06 Jan 2016


Salim Zidan

As it celebrated its 95th anniversary on Wednesday, the Iraqi army found itself at war on many fronts with Daesh terrorists in the country’s North and West.

The Government organised a simple celebration of the day in which the Commander-In-Chief, Haider Al-Abadi, placed a bunch of flowers on a statue dedicated to “The Unknown Soldier”.

Alongside Abadi in Baghdad were Saleem Al-Jubouri, the Speaker of the Council of Representatives, and Khaled Al-Obaidi, the Defense Minister. No military parade was organised this year because of the army’s capacities being taken up in fighting the war.

“During this great occasion we recall memories of the Iraqi Army on the battlefield and we praise the sacrifice of its sons throughout the past year in the war with Daesh,” said Naseer Noori, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, to Yalla.

Mr. Noori suggested that the worst was over for the army, with the setbacks of 2014 behind it and the initiative in the war with Daesh recovered.

“The Iraqi Army armed itself and trained well recently and it is reforming and restructuring, to protect the nation’s borders once the terrorist gangs are expelled,” he said. “Liberating Ramadi has given an enormous morale boost to the Army and restored its status.”

He added that the liberation of Ramadi put Falluja under siege from all sides with all indications pointing to its impending liberation.

“Daesh’s morale is broken because of the strong momentum of the Iraqi Army troops,” he said.

Currently 306,000 soldiers are in the ranks of the Iraqi Armed Forces, with a budget of 5.6 billion IQD.

Mutashar Al-Samarrai called for the rebuilding of the Iraqi Army along totally non-sectarian lines, which he argued exhausted it in recent years and led to the current situation where one-third of Iraq lies outside of Government control.

“Building the Iraqi Army in 2003 was unprofessional because we relied on a sectarian approach,” Al-Samarrai told Yalla. “It was managed by unprofessional personalities who undermined the competent ones and who laid the foundations for the collapse in 2014.”

Mr. Samarrai said he believed some people still wished to weaken the army.

“The Iraqi Army needs restorative reforms that dampen all forms of sectarianism and the soldiers need training to a high standard,” he said.

Also speaking to Yalla, Mohammad Al-Karbouli who sits on the Security and Defense Committee, talked about increased cooperation seen in recent military efforts to defeat Daesh.

He said the army’s recent victories gave a special meaning to the annual celebrations.

“The recent victories over Daesh in Anbar and Salahaddin taught us important lessons about cooperation, notably with local tribal forces,” he said.



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