Iraqi Military Experts Discuss Iraqi Army, Intelligence

From the USG Open Source Center, a translation of a transcript of a disccussion in Arabic by Iraqi military experts, carried by an Arabic-language Iranian satellite channel. Note that some of the things charged here are contradictory or implausible, but this discussion is a good window on what some Iraqis are thinking about the present situation.

Iranian Al-Alam TV "'Iraq Today' Program Views Iraqi Army
Al-Alam Television

Sunday, June 18, 2006 T21:50:25Z

Document Type: OSC Report

Today's edition of Al-Alam TV's "Iraq Today" program was presented by Baghdad-based Qasim al-Ubudi. The subject of discussion was the Iraqi army. The guests were Maj Gen Abd-al-Qazim al-Khuza'i, an "expert in military and security affairs"; Qasim Khudayr Abbas, a "legal expert", and Salah al-Tukmahchi, a "political analyst" interviewed via video link from London. The first two guests were at the studio.

The presenter introduced the program with a historical background on the Iraqi army which he said had suppressed the Iraqi people under Saddam's rule. He then referred to the dissolution of the army by the US civilian administrator Paul Bremer. He added that Bremer started to build "some military formations called the National Guard and sometimes the Iraqi army", adding that these formations were "still unable to bring about security to Iraq". He went on to say: "The question is: Why are these formations not provided with advanced weaponry? What is the strategy which the USA has for the current Iraqi army's structure? What is the truth behind political, ethnic and sectarian quota system within the Iraqi army?"

The three guests agreed that the USA was not willing to create a strong Iraqi army to justify the presence of its troops in Iraq and that it was still needed. They were also unanimous that the dissolution of the Iraqi army by Paul Bremer was a "grave mistake".

Maj Gen Abd-al-Qazim al-Khuza'i noted that according to the USA, the Iraqi army mainly needed land troops and only a limited number of armored forces since its air cover and artillery needs would be catered for by the US forces. He likened the Iraqi army to a police force. Talking about the militias, Al-Khuza'i wondered how the prime minister would be able to dissolve the militias in Iraq when these militias were controlled by ruling parties.

Qasim Khudayr Abbas criticized Iraqi politicians for abstaining from discussing the Iraqi intelligence service to which he referred as "non-Iraqi and non-national" [I.e. controlled by the CIA via Shahwani]. He strongly criticized the service and its leadership, accusing it of inciting sectarianism. He accused the leader of the force of recruiting officers whose "hands are stained with the blood of the Iraqis". He also accused the service of turning the Americans against the Shi'is.

Abbas maintained that the service only made its reports to the Americans and that the Iraqi government was kept in the dark regarding the activities of the intelligence service. He talked about its "links" with the CIA, which he saw as "very serious".

Abbas went on to talk about a US plan to divide the "new Middle East" and that the USA did not want Iraq to have a strong army.

Salah al-Tukmachi said that the USA was confused over the issue of the Iraqi army and that it did not have a clear strategy in this regard. He noted US senior officials' "admission" of "serious mistakes" made in connection with the Iraqi army. Al-Tukmachi supported Abbas's assertion that the Iraqi government had no control over the intelligence service. He called on the Iraqi government to draw a clear strategy for building the Iraqi army. He also criticized the training of Iraqi army personnel in Jordan and Egypt, which, he said, might influence the trainees. He called for building training centres within Iraq.

(Description of Source: Tehran Al-Alam Television in Arabic -- IRIB's 24-hour Arabic news channel, targetting a pan-Arab audience)

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