HOME About Blog Contact Hotel Links Donations Registration
NEWS & COMMENTARY 2008 SPEAKERS 2007 2006 2005

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iraqi intelligence warns against militias merger

BAGHDAD, June 11 (Reuters) - Iraq's intelligence chief warned in remarks published on Sunday against merging militias with government security forces, saying it would give them an official cover to carry out their activities.

Major General Mohammed al-Shahwani contradicted the position of new Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has vowed to merge powerful militias, which have close ties to ruling political parties, with security forces to get weapons off the streets.

"I have reservations about merging militias into security forces because this is not the solution. The solution is to rehabilitate militia members for civil service jobs," he said in an interview with Azzaman newspaper.

"Merging the militias means giving their activities an official cover at a time that the government and parliament and political powers are working on making government forces the only groups taking over security activities."

Militias are expected to be one of the most explosive issues for Shi'ite Islamist Maliki as he attempts to improve security forces and keep sectarianism out of their ranks.

He has warned of civil war if weapons stay in the hands of militias, widely perceived by Iraqis to be roaming hit squads who act with impunity.

The most powerful armed groups are the military wings of ruling political parties such as the Shi'ite SCIRI's Badr Brigades and radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia.

Both parties are in Maliki's Shi'ite Alliance.

Sunni Arab leaders have accused Iranian-trained Badr fighters of running death squads, a charge they deny. Its rival Mehdi Army has staged two armed revolts against U.S. and Iraqi forces. Iraqis have accused Sadr's militants of violently imposing their strict interpretation of Islam on them.

But dismantling them will be difficult because they form power bases for political parties, and some have already melted into police and security forces.Although Sunni Arabs do not have recognised militias the minority community forms the backbone of the insurgency against the U.S.-backed government.

The Kurds, for their part, have a large group of peshmerga fighters at their disposal and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, has said they should not be considered a militia because they fought against Saddam Hussein.

So have the Badr Brigades, a disciplined group whose members can be seen speeding through Baghdad on police vehicles.

Concerned that sectarianism could dominate ministries again in the new administration, Shahwani said security forces should take orders from the prime minister, not from political parties.

And he was equally cautious about intelligence services.

"Any Iraqi has the right to join intelligence according to certain terms. One of them is that he should not be a member of any party or political movement to ensure the neutrality of the intelligence service." (Writing by Michael Georgy, editing by Diana Abdallah)
Web IntelligenceSummit.org
Webmasters: Intelligence, Homeland Security & Counter-Terrorism WebRing
Copyright © IHEC 2008. All rights reserved.       E-mail info@IntelligenceSummit.org