Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—The leader of one of the Sunni political blocs in Iraq’s parliament welcomed Prime Minister Haider Al-Abdadi’s decision to halt air strikes on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in the country.
Fadel Al-Dabbass, leader of the Iraq Coalition said on Tuesday that the decision would “deepen the spirit of national unity and move the country away from the specter of sectarian division.”
Iraq’s new prime minister on Saturday ordered his country’s air force to halt strikes on civilian areas held by ISIS, after Sunni tribal leaders called for a moratorium on the strikes as a condition for supporting a broader military campaign against ISIS, which has seized swaths of central and western Iraq.
The Sunni-led Iraq Coalition, which has eight seats in parliament, welcomed Abadi’s government, affirming that it will be able to confront the threat represented by ISIS and secure true political reconciliation.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Dabbass said: “This government has brought together the different components of the Iraqi people on the basis that everyone recognizes the grave security threat represented by ISIS.”
“The government’s national goals of securing change and building and developing the state cannot be achieved so long as there is any political division,” Dabbass told Asharq Al-Awsat.
He described the Abadi government as a “technocratic” one, and claimed that Iraq’s Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds were now all working together to confront the challenges facing the country.
“It is very important that we all work together in order to ensure the unity of Iraq, confronting the security challenges that are facing the country, particularly the presence of ISIS which is threatening not just Iraq but the rest of the region . . . Our major objective is to help Iraq overcome the security, economic, social and services crises so that the Iraqi people can feel that real change has taken place. This is something that will only happen under the authority of an inclusive government that includes all segments of the Iraqi people, such as the new government,” he added.
Dabbass’s endorsement is likely to be seen as a positive development outside of Iraq as well as within the domestic sphere. The US and its allies have called on Abdadi to reach out to Iraq’s Sunnis in a bid to re-engage with those who claim to have been disenfranchised by the policies of Abdadi’s predecessor, Nuri Al-Maliki, currently serving as one of Iraq’s three vice-presidents.
The Iraq Coalition leader called for Baghdad to pursue a new regional foreign policy, stressing the importance of greater openness towards the Arab world and particularly Arab Gulf states, which he described as the “strategic depth” for Iraq.
“We can only praise the positions taken by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, [Saudi] King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, who has supported and continues to support the Iraqi people against terrorism for the sake of the unity of Iraq,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
“The Abadi government is facing a great and historic opportunity to lead changes that the Iraqi people have long waited for, particularly as this is a government that enjoys the support of all components of Iraq and political parties . . . We are doing everything in our power to support all the good steps being taken by this government to restore optimism for a just and decent life to the Iraqi people,” Dabbass told Asharq Al-Awsat.