Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, 350 kilometers (217 miles) north of Baghdad, Thursday, June 12, 2014. (Haaretz AP)
This is not a good sign for the future of Iraq.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said military deserters may face death sentences if they fail to return to duty.
Maliki has acted against the army commanders who failed to defend Mosul. He dismissed the three top generals who were in charge of operations in Nineveh province, whose capital is Mosul, and the commander of the army’s Third Infantry Division who “fled the battle scene,” according to a government decree. He also ordered an inquiry into 59 officers commanding units who deserted their posts, Almada news agency reported June 18.
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Who Takes Over?
The effectiveness of the move will depend on who takes over from the fired commanders, said Kenneth M. Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He said Maliki had been replacing the “good, smart, competent and apolitical officers” with others who “were nothing but loyal to him.”
Maliki has also said deserters may face death sentences if they fail to return, according to Almada. He’s not the only one making threats.
Abdel-Wahab said that his mother in Mosul was told by ISIL allies that he must return to Mosul, or they would take his brother. He said a few fellow soldiers had made the trip back to “announce their repentance” to the militants, and they hadn’t been heard of since.