BAGHDAD ø The United States has named a new interior minister for
Iraq whose first aim would be to help improve the nation's security forces.
Coalition Provisional Authority administrator Paul Bremer has named
Samir Sumaydah as the new interior minister. Sumaydah has been a member of
the interim Iraqi Governing Council.
Sumaydah replaced Interior Minister Nuri Badran, who resigned last week
amid criticism of the performance of the Iraqi police during the Shi'ite
rebellion. Badran was blamed for the failure of police and Iraqi Civil
Defense Corps to resist militia attacks in such Shi'ite cities as Karbala,
Kut, Najaf and Nasseriya. In some cases, Iraqi policemen joined the Shi'ite
insurgents, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We've clearly showed some weaknesses here in the last couple of weeks,"
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of the U.S.-led coalition, said. "And we are
retackling the problem with greater intensity to identify what leadership
has to be built, and that will be all the way from the national level down
to the local level."
Sanchez said the United States has accelerated the effort to increase
training of the army and police and planned to
complete such an infrastructure by May. He said the effort was to have also
included accelerated procurement of weapons.
"What we have had to do, obviously, because of the challenges that pose
themselves now, is to go back and reassess some of the training strategies
that we've been employing, clearly look at the leadership development and
training that has been put into place," Sanchez said. "But more importantly,
I think, we've got to make sure that we are mentoring and training these
security forces after they have gone through their initial training and give
them the mentorship and the supervision necessary for them to be credible
and capable once they're fielded."
U.S. officials said Iraqi military troops also refused orders to help
U.S. Marines recapture Faluja. They said an Iraqi army battalion returned to
Baghdad after the convoy came under fire from Shi'ite insurgents.
"In the south, a number of units, both in the police force and also in
the ICDC, did not stand up to the intimidators of
the forces of Sadr's militia and that was a great disappointment to us,"
U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid said on Monday. "With regard to
the new Iraqi army, I think we can look for better performance in the future
once we get a well-established Iraqi chain of command."
Iraqi military commanders did not press their troops to continue on to
Faluja. Officials said that up to 25 percent of the Iraqi military and
security forces have been deemed as unreliable, with many of them no longer
reporting for duty.
"What has happened is that the Iraqi police who were recruited and
trained by the coalition and trained in Jordan and other places have mostly
disappeared or surrendered or joined the people who have taken over their
stations," Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi said in an interview
with the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "There has been very
little opposition to the action of the armed people who attacked."
On Monday, the CPA and Iraqi officials continued negotiations with
insurgents in Falujah and southern Iraq. Officials said about 70 U.S. and
coalition soldiers were killed in the revolt since April 1, with enemy
casualties about 10 times higher.
Bremer also appointed Muwafaq Al Rubaie as Iraq's national security
adviser. Al Rubaie, already a member of the Governing Council, occupied a
newly-created position that would advise the Governing Council on both
military and security issues.