Former regime officers cause concern in Kirkuk
A decision by Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki to recall former Iraqi army officers from the Baath regime is causing concern for Kurds and Turkmen in Kirkuk.
The PM,who is also commander of the armed forces, decided to recall former officers and employees of the Iraqi army in June after a visit to his office by members of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, MPs, and Arab Political Council members.
The group asked al-Malaki to recall the former police and army officers to duty.
But Muhamed Kamal, a member of the KPC on the Kurdish Brayati list, says he is against returning the former officers to duty because they were “controlled and chosen by one party” during the time of the former regime.
“We want them to be retired, not on duty again. “ he said.
“We feel it is far more just and necessary for new people to be in their place in Kirkuk.”
After the end of Iraq-US War in 2003, Paul Bremer, the ruler of Iraq dissolved the ministries of Interior and Defense, along with other security institutions of the Baath regime.
Last month on July 18, the leadership of the 12th brigade of the Iraqi army welcomed a group of former Iraqi officers and tried to enroll them in the brigade. More than 200 officers were enlisted according to Gen. Brig. Ayad Muhamad, deputy commander of the 12th brigade.
The head of committee to return the former officers, Gen. Brig. Riyadh Abid, says all the officers were included in the decision to re-enlist without any discrimination.
But the number of Arab officers was greater than others as the Arab Political Council, consisting of some Arab leaders and tribesmen, said 3,000 officers had enrolled to return to duty again. The officers are still enlisting themselves to return to their former jobs.
Ali Mehdi, a Turkmen member of the KPC security committee says Kirkuk is a special case and the ratio of Kurds and Turkmens should be considered as well as the Arabs.
“We are against boycotting anyone” he said.
“But Kurds and Turkmen have been neglected since the 1980’s.”
Mehdi has called on the Iraqi PM to reconsider the decision as it ‘violates’ the equal representation of each faction in the army in Kirkuk. He says Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens should each make up 32% of the army.
However Sheikh Hasan Ali al-Jabouri, head of the Arab-majority council of Hawija calls the PM’s step ‘positive’ saying it ‘helps’ reconciliation and enables people to serve their country far from sectarian and party-affiliated motives.
Some political observers have long considered one of the reasons for the country’s security problems to be the Iraqi army dissolving in the hands of Bremer after 2003.
A former officer who preferred to remain anonymous praised the PM’s step saying “PM Maliki has issued a courageous decision.” He showed his readiness to return and ‘serve’ the Iraqi army. Military sources consider the number of Iraqi army members to be 450 thousand, as they claim that 50% of this number are either retired or have returned to the army, while the fate of the other 50% is unknown.
Abudlla Sabah – Kirkuk Now