Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool Abdullah Alzubaidi led media operations to defeat Daesh propaganda
During the battles waged by the Iraqi Armed Forces to liberate Iraq from the abomination of terrorism emerged many stories of Iraqi heroism. The world learned the names of many men who distinguished themselves through their heroic deeds.
Publicizing these morale-boosting tales of military triumphs — while rebutting Daesh’s lies — was largely the role of one commander: Special Forces Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool Abdullah Alzubaidi, spokesman for the Combined Joint Operations Command.
In the direst straits, amid the tensions of the Iraqi street and social media misinformation spread by Daesh, it was Brig. Gen. Yahya who sought to restore tranquility by highlighting Iraqi victories and explaining battle developments.
Brig. Gen. Yahya discredited Daesh propaganda by publishing evidence and photos that confirmed that the Iraqi Armed Forces were defeating the terrorists. His words landed on terrorist lairs like airstrikes or artillery bombardments, undermining Daesh’s ability to rally its fighters.
Brig. Gen. Yahya graduated from the First Military College in 1989 and joined the Special Forces School. For his outstanding performance in the Special Forces Course, he was nominated to become a Rangers instructor.
After 2003, he was appointed an intelligence officer in the National Guard and served as a battalion commander in the 42nd Brigade, 11th Infantry Division, from 2006 to 2007, where he was responsible for one of the most dangerous areas during the days of sectarian violence in Baghdad.
He earned the confidence and trust of the people, who cooperated with his troops to expel criminal gangs and militias from his areas of responsibility.
“There can be no security in the town without citizens’ respect and trust. For that reason, I conducted home visits, addressed citizens’ concerns, and promised that we would serve them as best we could,” the brigadier general said. “I also ordered my Soldiers to treat people with respect and professionalism and not to allow sectarianism to intrude into their daily tasks, especially because our areas of responsibility included many factions of Iraqi society.”
He worked as the director of the Office of the Secretary General at the Ministry of Defense from 2010 to 2012, where he dealt with senior leaders during their daily visits to the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Office of the Minister of Defense. He also received guests of honor, increasing his experience in dealing with the media and senior leaders and forming personal relationships with Iraqi officers.
“It is my honor to have been chosen by the commander in chief of the Armed Forces to be the spokesman for the Combined Joint Operations Command. Despite his busy schedule, he summoned me to his office, and we sat for 15 minutes as I answered his delicate questions, which emphasized patriotism, the rejection of sectarianism, and [the importance of] credibility when conveying information to the public,” he said.
“At the end of the meeting, he wrote his personal phone number on a small piece of paper and asked me to call him directly if I needed to discuss anything. He told me he had put his trust, and the trust of the Iraqi people, in my abilities to handle this responsibility.”
Brig. Gen. Yahya began the arduous task of discrediting Daesh’s propaganda, which dominated social media sites and used suspicious media channels during fierce battles in Jaraf al-Sakher, Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah and Khaldiya. Iraqis awaited his appearance to describe the Army’s victories and the liberation of cities.
“Despite Daesh’s control over social media pages and the battles around Baghdad, I was able to counter its mass propaganda and get millions of followers on social media by publishing information about the course of the battles. I made sure to be in the city during liberation battles and witnessed firsthand the raising of the Iraqi flag above the buildings before it was shown on the news so that I could announce our Armed Forces’ control of the city,” Brig. Gen. Yahya said.
“This allowed me to win the trust of Iraqis and expose the lies of the terrorist thugs, who claimed that the fight continued in those areas. My press conference in front of government buildings in Fallujah and Tikrit negated their propaganda operation on Twitter and Facebook; here, we started to defeat them on social media pages.”
Brig. Gen. Yahya believes in the unity of Iraq and peaceful coexistence among all sects. He knows that Iraqis by nature are a peaceful people who reject sectarian divisions and that they will emerge from this period victorious and united:
“We must teach the next generation to reject the extremist ideology that brought Daesh, woe and destruction to Iraq. We must encourage peaceful coexistence so that we do not permit terrorism in our mosques. We must not allow proponents of terrorist ideologies to exploit social media or other channels to recruit our young people. The Iraqi people have believed in tolerance since the dawn of time; Iraq fostered the world’s oldest civilizations and preserved its social fabric. Extremist thugs cannot defeat a civilization that has lasted for thousands of years.”
He also recognizes the importance of international partnerships in combating terrorism, and expressed gratitude to the global community for standing by Iraq by providing training, weapons, air support and intelligence.
“We are fighting terrorism in Iraq on behalf of the civilized world because [terrorists] hate freedom and peace. I am in constant contact — and have strong relationships — with my colleagues in the international coalition,” Brig. Gen. Yahya said. “Because the scourge of terrorism does not stop at state borders, it cannot be defeated by one country alone, even one with modern technology and weapons. We need international partners to combat terrorism.”