U.S. names new Iraqi minister charged with improving security

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

BAGHDAD 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.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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