Foreign Policy Blogs

Abadi is a dictator and not one of the most prominent thinkers

Foreign Policy Magazine has listed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi as one of the most prominent thinkers of 2017. He is number 65 on Foreign Policy’s list. In the article, Foreign Policy alleges that Abadi has fought to keep Iraq united, extended an olive branch to the Kurds and has even ordered Iran out of certain areas. As we begin the New Year, it is apparent that all of these claims could not be further from the truth. To the contrary of the claims made by Foreign Policy Magazine, Abadi is another sectarian Iran proxy just like Maliki, who murders and rapes his own citizens. He is a tyrant and a dictator, not an intellectual thinker.

Under Abadi, the Kurdistan region of Iraq is gravely suffering after many Kurds were forced to run for their lives when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iraqi Army and the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces invaded Kirkuk, Tuz Khourmatu and other areas following Kurdistan’s Independence Referendum. Following their invasion, the Iraqi Army and its allies have been kidnapping, gang raping and arresting people who have guns, Kurdish flags and who support the KDP. In addition, Kurdish homes in Kirkuk, Duz and other areas were burned to the ground. Many Kurdish homes were also looted.

Over 180,000 Kurds were displaced by Abadi and his allies when they took over Kirkuk and the surrounding areas. This has created additional strains on the Kurdistan Regional Government, who has witnessed a significant reduction in their oil revenues and to date has received zero funds from Baghdad in order to take care of the refugees in their area. Prior to that, the Kurdistan Regional Government was already hosting over 1.2 million refugees including many Yazidis and Christians who fled from ISIS, which has increased the KRG’s population by close to 30%.

By closing off the Erbil and Suleimaniya airports to international flights, making it difficult for other countries to send humanitarian aid to Kurdistan and not sending the Kurds the funding that they are entitled to, the Central Iraqi Government significantly complicated Kurdish efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of their citizens, which has adversely affected the health of many Peshmergas needing treatment abroad after getting wounded fighting against ISIS and it has also impacted the amount of food given to Kurdish citizens after they suffered a devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake. In sum, any leader who neglects the needs of his citizens and lets his people starve in the name of promoting his political interests is a divider, not a unifier like Foreign Policy claims.

To add insult to injury, Abadi does not even recognize the sacrifices of the families of 1,824 martyrs and more than 10,000 wounded Peshmergas who fought against ISIS. However, he compares his persecution and oppression of the Kurdish people in Kirkuk to the defeat of ISIS. “The Iraqi Prime Minister’s speech was sectarian and was directed to certain groups, rather than being for all the Iraqi communities,” Dr. Bakhtyar Shaways, a member of Iraq’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, said. Shaways also claimed that not mentioning Peshmerga is a violation of the Iraqi constitution, as according to the constitution, Peshmerga are part of the overall Iraqi defense system. The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs added, “How can Prime Minister Al Abadi expect the families of the martyred and wounded Peshmergas and the people of Kurdistan to be loyal to Iraq when he fails to recognize and appreciate their sacrifices?”

One must ask the editor of Foreign Policy Magazine, if Abadi was a unifier of Iraq and not a sectarian dictator, why has he refused to have any dialogue with the Kurds? Why has he imposed such a brutal blockade on the Kurds just for expressing their democratic rights? Why does he seek to strangle and starve them to death? Why does he have his forces arrest, kidnap and gang rape Kurdish citizens? Why does he burn and loot Kurdish homes? And if he is not an Iran proxy, why did he invite Iran to play an active role in brutally repressing the Kurds and why is he doing everything in his power in order to advance Iran’s interests to the detriment of the United States? And if he is truly a liberator, why has he ethnically cleansed areas from Kurds just like ISIS did? Abadi is not much better than ISIS, who also burned down homes, gang raped women and ethnically cleansed Kurds! If he is one of the most prominent thinkers of 2017, then our world has lost touch with morality and what is the meaning of a prominent thinker.

Abadi is no John F. Kennedy. He is not a Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or any other world class leader who deserves to be written down in history as a prominent thinker, who influenced humanity for the better. To the contrary, given the way that he treats not only the Kurds but also other groups in Iraq, Nouri Al Maliki, Bashar Al Assad, Ayatollah Khomeini, Ismail Haniyeh or any other Iranian-backed sectarian dictator serves as a better parallel to Abadi than any world class leader from any democratically elected country would. The editor of Foreign Policy made a grave mistake in giving Abadi such an honor.

  • As iraqi as you can get

    Damn kurds have really hit a new low if abadi is a dictator , was saddam an angel then u want him back ?

    • iraqi

      it’s not kurds
      it’s their masters
      read who wrote the article

      • As iraqi as you can get

        Ah not a surprise even if the kurds did so.


    With all due respect, the argument and examples you’ve provided could easily be applied to Netanyahu, and the Israeli government, viz-a-viz the Palestinian issue.
    The UN resolution which created Israel in 1948, created two nations, and one international city. It called for the creation of a Jewish state and demarcated its borders; an Arab state was also created and its borders were demarcated (Gaza and the West Bank were to be the Arab Palestinian homeland); and, an international city was created – Jerusalem.
    Have the Palestinians been given a referendum on whether or not they want to be a part of Israel? If not, why not? Do they not have the right to self determination?
    If such a referendum were to take place (similar to the Kurdish referendum), how would the Palestinians vote?
    Isn’t Netanyahu, and the Israeli government being as dictatorial as the Iraqis for not allowing the Palestinians to have their state?
    The airports have been cut off for the Kurds. Many would argue that Israel is blockading Gaza.
    While everything you’ve written is true, one could easily write such an article about Israel, which I doubt that you would appreciate. In essence, what is the difference between how the Iraqi government act towards Kurds, and how Israeli government acts towards the Palestinians?


    You do realize that all these arguments could be applied to the Israeli government and Netanyahu as well.
    Have the Palestinians been given a state as per the UN resolution of 1948 (the resolution gave them the territory of the West Bank and Gaza)? Where is the Palestinian referendum? If they were given such a referendum, how would Israel react? Isn’t Netanyahu’s government being just as dictatorial as Abadi’s by not allowing a referendum? Do the Palestinians not have a right to self determination? Doesn’t the blockade of Gaza have the same effect as the destruction of the Kurdish airports? And so on, and so forth.
    While everything you’ve written is true, it is also a tad hypocritical.

  • Nawzet Rouf

    Excellent article, thanks Rachel for shedding the light on Abadi the proxy of Iran. He is abusing his power with full support from Trump adminstration and the regime of Iran. When the world will know Iraq is a failed state.

  • Ahmed

    Iraq army other forces invaded Kirkuk?????????
    Dear rachel … Do u even know what does the word means ???
    Kirkuk is an iraqi city just like any other city north or south iraq from basrah through baghdad . erbil till the borders with Turkey… And internationally the official armed forces of any country have the right to move in the country …. And iraqi army and other forces in a war with terrorism !
    It seems that Israeli influence or mabye massoad barazani’s stolen money did it purpose 😉👍


Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is based in Israel and publishes in a variety of media outlets throughout the world. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media." Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University and a BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.