Thursday, March 04, 2004

Calling for the dead.

- There’ve been always debates here in Iraq and of course on the Arab media about the Iraqi army and during the conversations they always blamed the USA for disjoining that army after the fall of Saddam’s regime.
Such debates came back to the surface after the last terrorist attacks on Baghdad and Kerbala. The Arabs together with some Iraqis suggest that “the USA should’ve not dismiss the Iraqi military because if she kept the structure of the Iraqi army it would be a major factor for securing Iraqi borders and cities from foreigner intruders”. And they went on with their analysis saying that "Americans want Iraq to remain in chaos to justify keeping their troops there as long as possible and that's why they replaced the old strong army with small, weak troops"!
I say, those people clearly forgotten what that “army” was. So I’ll try to refresh their memory a little about this issue.
The Iraqi army after the gulf war was made up from the following types of personnel:
:: Soldiers: obligatory conscription applied to all Iraqis at the age of 18 for 3 years (for those who don’t go to college) and for 18 months for college graduates (immediately after they finish their study whatever their specialization was). Those were given salaries of about 15 $/month which was not enough to cover the transport cost from their homes to their units. And they also suffered from humiliation and inhuman punishments from their officers.
:: Staff officers: those were originally volunteers, but got imprisoned in the military service. After they joined the army in the 70’s and early 80’s they were forced to serve for at least 25 years before they can apply for a resignation. That’s why the majority of staff officers are over the age of 45. There were many cases in which some of those (who had enough money) paid thousands of dollars (a fortune in Iraq) to bribe their bosses to set them free.
:: Officers: the past regime worked hard to make an Iraqi officer one of the following:
- Murderers: who were responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and sometimes for driving their own colleagues to the death penalty.
- Thieves: those who made benefit of their positions as units’ commanders were making their living out of the “gifts” given to them from the younger officers and soldiers under their command.
- Helpless: those were the type that Saddam didn’t have to fear. They were trying their best to stay away from troubles; obeying as much orders as they can, hurting as less people as they can. They kept serving in the army just because they wanted to stay alive. They were simply trapped and those were also getting humble salaries, so they had to find an additional job to keep their families alive, just like other civilian officials, they became grocers or cab drivers, along with their original jobs.
So, who do you think would agree to stay in the same army?
The poor slaves and the silent lambs couldn’t believe that they were free to go and start a new life, and believe me no one would agree to join the (old army) again after what they’ve suffered.
However, when the CPA declared that a new army would be formed with new rules and new values, many of them chose to volunteer and serve their country.
As for the thieves and the murderers the case is different, their interests were damaged. They always considered the Iraqi people and the US to be their most hated enemies, so why would they come back to help the Americans help the Iraqis?
Again I say, at the end of the war, there was practically no army to keep and the decay actually started years before that.
It makes absolutely no sense to keep that expensive, corrupted, damaged structure. Does Iraq need an army of 600,000 soldiers?
What shall we do with all that number? We have no intentions to invade our neighboring countries as Saddam used to do. All we need right now is to secure our national borders and keep our streets safe, so we need efficient border guards, strong police, a new intelligence system established on new basis (not the bloody Mukhabarat) in addition to a small but modern and efficient army.
I don’t know why I’m bothering you and myself reasoning silly perspectives presented by people who are either narrow minded or just trying to seize a shadow of an opportunity to claim that what’s been done in Iraq is wrong. We're not solving the problem when we put the blame on our allies (that's what our enemies want). Instead we should work together to locate the real defect and try to fix it.

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