Top Iraqi commander removed amid controversy over Iran, U.S. involvement

Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi helped recapture Mosul from ISIS in 2017 served in the CTS, which was created and trained by the US.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
September 29, 2019 05:29
1 minute read.
Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi walks east of Mosul during a fight with ISIS

Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi walks in Baladiyat district, east of Mosul during a fight with Islamic State. (photo credit: REUTERS/REUTERS STAFF)

A top commander in Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) was decommissioned without any reason given, according to Al Arabiya.

Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi helped recapture Mosul from ISIS in 2017 served in the CTS, which was created and trained by the United States.

Saadi said he considered the shift to a position at the Ministry of Defense as an "insult" and a "punishment" on Friday.

An Iraqi government official who spoke under condition of anonymity said that pro-Iran factions within Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi militia had "personally" lobbied for Saadi's removal.

"These groups were operating outside the state and the only barrier was the CTS," said the official to the AFP. "The idea is to sideline him to bring somebody close to Iran and no longer have the CTS as a check."

Ghaleb al-Shabandar, a political commentator, described the move as "the beginning of the Iraqi army’s dismantling and handover to the Hashed and other armed groups."

The hashtag "We are all Abdulwahab al-Saadi" began trending on Twitter with pictures of the commander aiding civilians in Mosul and other cities, as Iraqis across the country responded with shock.

"He won the people’s friendship but the (politicians’) hatred," said one supporter, while another said that there was "no more space for patriots in this country."

"While the fight against IS goes on, this decision reinforces the enemy’s morale and weakens Iraqis’ faith in their army," said extremist specialist Hisham al-Hashemi.

Lawmaker Khaled al-Obeidi, Iraq's former defense minister, said parliament would investigate the reasons behind the decision to remove Saadi.


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