Categorized | Canadian Politics

Jason Kenney calls on Iraqi forces ‘to do better’ in wake of defeat to ISIS

Posted on 27 May 2015 by admin


Defence Minister Jason Kenney is urging Iraq military forces to do better in their fight against Islamic State extremists, saying the loss of a key city must be a wake-up call.

Kenney’s comments on Monday come after the blunt assessment from U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter who questioned the Iraqis’ will to fight, despite intensive training by Western militaries.

In a CNN interview Sunday, Carter said that Iraqi forces “vastly outnumbered” the Islamic State group, but still “showed no will to fight” and fled the ISIL advance on Ramadi earlier this month.

The defeat at Ramadi has sparked a war of words involving Iraq and the Western nations that are contributing troops and equipment to help counter advances by Islamic extremists.

A spokesman for Iraq’s prime minister suggested that Carter had “incorrect information.” Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the elite Quds forces in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, pointed the finger at U.S. forces for doing nothing to stop the ISIL advance on Ramadi.

Yet Kenney told reporters Monday that the fall of the city west of Baghdad should serve as a lesson for Iraqi forces to better confront the ISIL threat.

“Unfortunately the situation in Ramadi is clearly a setback and a wake-up call for the Iraqi military to massively improve its effectiveness,” he said.

“We agree with the American assessment that they need to do more. They need to do better.”

Kenney said the abilities of the Iraqi forces were discussed when he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during a visit to the country earlier this month.

“He briefed us on his efforts to improve the quality of the commanders in the Iraqi army and to reinforce unity between the various factions,” Kenney said.

During that same trip, Kenney and Harper went to northern Iraq where a small group of elite Canadian soldiers are training Kurdish peshmerga fighters in their own fight against the Islamic State. Kenney said the peshmerga have been “effective” in battling militants and holding ground.

Despite the loss of Ramadi and concerns about the quality of Iraqi forces, Kenney said that Canada would stick with its commitment, extended to next spring, to train Kurdish fighters and not expand its efforts to other parts of the Iraq military.

“Many of our allies are already doing very widespread training operations with the Iraqi army in southern and central Iraq,” he said.

Still, the defeat at Ramadi has called into question Iraqi efforts to turn back Islamic State militants, a campaign that has been heavily backed by Canada, the U.S., Britain and other Western nations.

Many of those countries have dispatched troops to serve as trainers to Iraqi forces and get them in shape to reclaim territory seized by Islamic State fighters.

In the meantime, fighter jets from Canada and other nations are bombing Islamic State targets to keep stem their advances until Iraqi forces are ready to launch ground offensive.

Kenney said the international efforts have helped pushed back ISIL.

“There is no doubt that had Canada and other allies not brought force to bear against ISIL that it would possess far more territory than it currently does in Iraq. We’ve been successful in constraining the organization,” Kenney said.


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