On September 21, 2014 Islamic State (IS) led insurgents captured an army base in Saqlawiya, which is to the north of Fallujah in Anbar. Some 300 soldiers were said to have died with others captured. This was the largest military collapse since the fall of Tikrit in June. In response Premier Haider Abadi retired two top commanders in the Iraqi army General Abboud Qanbar, the deputy chief of staff of operations and General Ali Ghidan the Ground Forces Commander. The two had been under fire before, which has led some parliamentarians to call for their investigation and perhaps prosecution for the fall of northern Iraq during the summer.
Gen. Qanbar deputy chief of staff of operations (left) and General Ghidan the ground forces of commander were forced into retirement by PM Abadi after the fall of Camp Saqlawiya in Anbar
After the fall of Camp Saqlawiya Prime Minister Abadi announced that he was retiring General Abboud Qanbar and General Ali Ghidan. He said he was holding those responsible for the latest fiasco in Anbar accountable. Both generals were known as Maliki loyalists. Back in October 2009, Maliki fired Qanbar as the head of the Baghdad Operations Command after a day of bombings in the capital cost the lives of 127 people and wounded another 448. That didn’t stop Maliki from later appointing him as the deputy chief of staff of operations. Later, Qanbar and General Ghidan would be blamed for the fall of Mosul in June 2014. Both generals were in the city when the insurgents attacked. They ended up getting on a helicopter and fleeing before Mosul was taken. When word spread they had left many members of the security forces shed their uniforms and took off as well. Maliki said he was punishing the two afterward, but nothing happened due to their relationship with the former premier. Now that Abadi has finally gotten rid of them some members of parliament are upset. Several have called for Qanbar and Ghidan to be brought before the legislature and investigated for their role in the fighting in Mosul. Some said they should be put on trial for negligence, while others were afraid the two would leave the country and never be questioned. They obviously believe that simply being retired is not enough punishment for what these two former generals have been involved in.
Few Iraqi officials have ever been held accountable for their mistakes so Abadi’s firing of Generals Qanbar and Ghidan was a change. However neither looks like they will face any further consequences for their lack of leadership over the last several months when insurgents took a quarter of the country under their watch. That’s why some lawmakers are angry, and are calling for their heads. It’s unlikely anything further will happen to them. Premier Abadi wants to bring about reforms, but not rock the boat too much given his fragile political situation and the on going security crisis.
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