The new Iraqi Interior Minister Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban has vowed to fight sectarianism, stating that the Ministry of Interior will become a ministry for all Iraqis, regardless of religion, sect or denomination.
In a statement to Azzaman after his appointment by parliament, Ghabban said he would fight the corruption that plagues the security services and prove to Iraqis that he is capable of eliminating sectarian tension in Iraq by placing the Ministry of Interior at the disposal of all Iraqis.
In his first statement to the media, Ghabban told Azzaman that the new security strategy is based on fighting administrative and financial corruption that’s plaguing security services.
In an interview via Facebook, Ghabban told Azzaman, “I will distance leaders who have failed to address terrorism.”
Responding to a question about monitoring terrorism operations, he said, “One of the goals of the security strategy I am following is to employ intelligence efforts and to follow up on terrorist sleeper cells.”
Ghabban also said that the most important part of this service strategy is to train and develop the skills of the police in fighting terrorism.
“I am honored to be at the service of those heroes who sacrificed themselves to defend Iraq without even considering anything in return,” the minister said. He also called upon all Iraqis to cooperate with the security services.
“I call upon citizens to send their complaints or comments on corruption issues in the ministry, because fighting corruption is a priority for us,” he added.
On Aug. 18, the Iraqi parliament agreed to appoint two ministers for the ministries of interior and defense, to put an end to the weeks-long vacancy, given the importance of these two critical security posts in the midst of the battles waged by Iraqi forces against the Islamic State (IS) that took control of large areas of the country.
The parliament has ratified this appointment in addition to the other six ministerial posts, which included Kurdish ministers.
By this, the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is formed, which was one of the key demands of the international community that has been pushing toward a unity government representing all Iraqi religious and political components.
Washington, which is leading the international coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq, was swift to welcome the new appointments.
In a statement from Boston, US Secretary of State John Kerry said the posts of the ministers of interior and defense are critical in the framework of the efforts to fight against IS.
“We are very satisfied and we congratulated Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, hoping to work with him shortly within the framework of the coalition,” Kerry said.
It is the first time two competent ministers have been appointed to these two critical posts since former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's second term in 2010. Maliki was greatly criticized by his political opponents for the deteriorating security in the country and the growing control of [IS] on large areas of the country. Maliki was also accused of sidelining Sunnis and monopolizing power.
During the Saturday afternoon [Oct. 18] parliament session, Ghabban, who is a member of the Shiite bloc Badr, was appointed as minister of the interior and Khaled al-Obeidi, the candidate of the Sunni National Forces Coalition, as minister of defense, according to the statement by Samira al-Mousawi, parliament member for the National Alliance, to AFP.
Ghabban, 53, is a member of the Shiite bloc Badr headed by Hadi al-Amiri, who is the commander of the Badr Organization that is currently fighting alongside Iraqi forces against IS. Amiri was the most prominent candidates for this post. Ghabban, who was opposed to the regime of former president Saddam Hussein left for Iran in 1981. He holds a bachelor's degree in literature from the University of Tehran and a master’s degree from London.
Obeidi, 55, on the other hand, was an officer who specialized in the engineering of aircraft engines for the Iraqi air force during the rule of Saddam. Following the fall of the regime against the background of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Obeidi started working as a university professor. He holds two master’s degrees in engineering and military science and a doctorate in political science.
The new defense minister spoke from Mosul, the biggest city in the north of Iraq and the first to fall in the hands of IS following its relentless June attack, wherein it managed to take control of large areas in the north and west of the country, approaching the border of the Kurdistan Region. The government of Abadi, who succeeded Maliki on Aug. 11, won the confidence of the members of parliament during a Sept. 8 parliament session. However, the two security posts [of the interior and defense ministers] remained vacant at the time, and Abadi asked for some time to nominate ministers to this effect.
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