‘Disbanding Iraqi army was a mistake’
* Yawar fears insurgents will intensify campaign of violence to undermine electoral process
* Slams neighbouring countries
LONDON: Iraq’s interim President Ghazi al-Yawer said in an interview broadcast on Monday that the US-led coalition was wrong to dismantle the Iraqi security forces.
“Definitely dissolving the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior was a big mistake at that time,” al-Yawer told British Broadcasting Corp radio.
“We could have screened people out instead of screening them in and this could have saved us a lot of hassle and problems,” he said. The BBC said it spoke to al-Yawer in London, where he was briefly stopping after a visit to the United States.
Critics of the US-led invasion say the decision to disband the 400,000-strong Iraqi army and to purge the state of members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party has contributed to chaos and helped fuel insurgency in post-war Iraq.
Al-Yawer said the security situation wouldn’t be resolved unless Iraq’s own security forces were “100 percent efficient.”
“We have to reinstate some of the clean-record army officers and police officers,” he said. “As soon as we have efficient security forces that we can depend on we can see the beginning of the withdrawal of forces from our friends and partners and I think it doesn’t take years, it will take months.”
The Iraqi president said he feared insurgents would intensify their campaign of violence in the run-up to elections on Jan 30.
“Their tactical target is to undermine the electoral process and to stop us having our first elections,” he said.
Al-Yawer also said neighbouring countries were interfering in Iraqi affairs.
“There are so many people crossing the border from neighbouring countries, specifically Iran, and it’s been right now in Iraq unaccounted for,” he said. “I think there are some elements of official Iran, I don’t mean the whole government, (who) are playing a role in organising and financing things in Iraq preparing for the elections.”
He didn’t specify what activities he believed the Iranians were involved in. He also said he believed elements of the Syrian security services were harbouring insurgents. “I’m still counting on President Bashar Assad because I have a belief that goes to a certainty that he is a reformist,” al-Yawer said, before adding: “This (Syria) is a country that is run by security and definitely they cannot operate from Syria unless there is somebody who is condoning what they are doing.” Yawar also told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that long-term instability in Iraq could give birth to an “Iraqi Hitler” if citizens continue to feel humiliated and despondent.
“This could in the long term create an environment in which an Iraqi Hitler could emerge like the one created by the defeat of Germany and the humiliation of Germans in World War I,” Yawar told the newspaper.
“When a fire breaks out in your neighbour’s house you should act quickly to put it out, not only for the sake of your neighbour but also so that you are not forced to put it out in your own home when it spreads there,” the president said. agencies