FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Return of Saddam’s Generals

by PATRICK COCKBURN

 

Baghdad

Iraqi generals who fought for Saddam Hussein are being reinstated to strengthen the new US-trained Iraqi army half of whose soldiers mutinied or went home during fighting earlier this month.

More than half a dozen generals from the old Iraqi army, dissolved by the US-led Coalition last May, have already been given jobs say American officials according to the US press.

Former members of the Baath party will also be employed in the government.

The abrupt reversal of previous policy comes as a senior US general admitted that 10 per cent of the Iraqi security services actually changed sides during recent fighting and another 40 per cent went home.

It was known that one Iraqi battalion had refused to fight against fellow Iraqis in Fallujah and police and paramilitary units walked off the job earlier in April. But Maj Gen Mark Dempsey, the commander of the 1st Armoured Division based in Baghdad, said that the disintegration of the security services went much further than previously admitted.

Gen Dempsey said: About 40 per cent walked off the job because they were intimidated. And about 10 per cent actually worked against us.

He added that the mutineers were infiltrators.

The setback for the US is very significant because over the last nine months building up Iraqi security forces to replace US troops has been a central and much-publicised plank in US policy in Iraq.

Gen Dempsey took comfort from the fact that about 50 per cent of the security services that we’ve built up over the last year stood tall and stood firm.

Paul Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq, is reversing the policy under which the 350,000-strongE Iraqi army was dissolved and 750,000 members of the Baath party were either sacked from their jobs or found it difficult to gain employment. It is widely admitted among US officials that the disbandment of the army and de-Baathification were disastrous decisions helping to fuel the insurgency among Sunni Arabs, only a fifth of all Iraqis but the foundation of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Among those to regain their jobs will be 11,000 teachers and hundreds of university professors who were former Baath party members.

Membership of the Baath was a requirement under Saddam Hussein for most government posts.

In a Sunni Arab town like Hawijah in western Kirkuk province the local mayor complained last year that he might have to close the local hospital because so many of the doctors were Baathists and, under de-Baathication, had to be dismissed.

The headmaster of a big local boys school was forced to resign but his successor, a Turkoman, was too frightened to take up his job. Boys at the school planned to burn it down and were only dissuaded by the former Baathist headmaster.

Members of the top four ranks of the Baath were to be dismissed under a campaign against Baathism led by Ahmed Chalabi, the chairman of Iraqi Governing Council’s committee on de-Baathification.

The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and Washington were clearly alarmed at the degree of alienation of Sunni and Shia Arabs, 80 per cent of the population, earlier this month. Allowing the Baath party members to get top jobs is aimed at conciliating the Sunni Arab community.

But the central problem of the CPA remains the lack of legitimacy and popular support for the Iraqi Governing Council or any of the institutions of the Iraqi state. This means that Iraqis who cooperate with them, including generals who rejoin the army, risk being seen as collaborators. Even Iraqi journalists who are shown on television asking questions at Coalition press conferences in Baghdad have received death threats.

Meanwhile a US spokesman said yesterday in Baghdad that the ceasefire in Fallujah would last a matter of days rather than weeks unless the insurgents handed over their heavy weapons. The US army showed, with some disgust, pictures of the rusting rockets and mortars and elderly machine guns that head been handed in the US Marines surrounding the city so far.

Some 36 Iraqis were killed during fighting in Fallujah according to the US. The

US military say they want to see a whole field full of weapons such as heavy machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers. But it is not clear how the civilian leaders of Fallujah can persuade all of the guerrillas to give up their weapons.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail