The Egyptian Foreign Ministry welcomed on Sunday the formation of a new Iraqi unity government charged with fighting a rising Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) insurgency.
The Iraqi parliament has appointed new Ministers of Defence and Interior, a Sunni and Shi’a respectively. It is seen as a move that “allows Iraq to move steadily towards restoring stability” and “achieving the aspirations of Iraqis” in the country’s ongoing fight against hard-line Islamic militants.
The Foreign Ministry’s statement also reiterated the “important role” occupied by Iraqis in the Arab world.
Iraq has been threatened by ISIS since the group made several advances in recent months. The group has succeeded in capturing the city of Mosul, and allegedly taken command of billions of dollars in American war machinery abandoned by retreating Iraqi forces.
The US, which has spent years and considerable sums of money training the battered Iraqi Army, recently formed a coalition to carry out airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria.
The coalition, which is based on a “degrade and destroy” strategy, has been successful in slowing the advance of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s army. There are, however, fears that the group will eventually reach the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
Security in the Baghdad area is also crucially important during the next few weeks, as Shi’a pilgrims ready themselves for the Ashura and Arbaeen holidays in early November. The pilgrims will make their way from Baghdad to Karbala, a mere 50 miles from the capital as part of the festival.
Concerns that the Sunni ISIS militants will attack the pilgrims will put an increasing strain on Iraqi army leadership. Coalition members have refused to provide any aid other than the airstrikes which target ISIS vehicles and bases, but have so far stayed away from front-line action.