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Volume 18, Number 19 May 5, 2004

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Security in Iraq 

By U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Paul Bremer

Recruitment of Security Forces 

Our training of an Iraqi Army and an Iraqi police service is a key part of our efforts to ensure that Iraqis are eventually able to handle their own security. Our training efforts are continuing at an extraordinary pace. 

On April 18, the Iraqi Minister of Defense announced his appointment of the top Iraqi generals in the new Iraqi Army. Iraqi officers, drawn almost entirely from the many honorable men of the former Iraqi Army, already command these forces. 

Over 70 percent of all the men in the Iraqi army and Iraq Civil Defense Corps served honorably in the former army and wish to serve their country again. All are carefully vetted to ensure that no one is accepted who had a direct hand in the atrocities of the former regime. 

In reconstituting these forces, the Iraqi people also benefit from the skills of the many who served in armed groups that fought against Saddam’s regime. We will continue to welcome these individuals into the army, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the police and border guards. 

More of these officers with honorable records from the former army and elsewhere will serve in the months ahead as the new Iraqi Army grows. In the coming months, the Coalition and the Iraqis forces will steadily strengthen their security partnership, placing increasing responsibility in the hands of Iraqis. By June 30, Iraqi soldiers in the ranks will report up through an Iraqi chain of command to Iraqi generals. 

When sovereignty is transferred to an Iraqi government on June 30, Coalition and Iraqi forces will continue to work as partners to defeat the terrorists and provide security for the Iraqi people. 

This is consistent with our strategy from the moment we disbanded the former Iraqi Army and began planning for building new security forces. We knew all along that there would be substantial recruitment from the old army for the junior ranks of the new force and, in due course, the senior ranks as well. Central to the strategy, however, is ensuring that no senior officers from the old army had blood on their hands from the former regime’s crimes. We have implemented a robust vetting process to this effect. 

Assistance for Iraq Border Crossing Points

Both Iraqis and the Coalition remain concerned about security of Iraq's border. Iraq’s long borders, especially those with Iran and Syria, are difficult to defend and there is evidence that foreign terrorists are coming into Iraq. 

The Coalition is working toward solutions. 

When the interim government takes office on June 30, that government will have the equipment, staff, training and materials necessary to operate each of its 20 major border crossing points. 

We expect to have 16,000 Iraqis devoted to border security by June 30. Until that time we are going to limit and control the number of people crossing into Iraq from other nations. 

Additionally, the Coalition is providing Iraq with sophisticated technical systems to help screen and track foreign visitors. 

Iraqi Detainees 

During the war and since the liberation of Iraq, Coalition forces have detained thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of foreigners. 

But we have already released over 75 percent of those detained and we have simplified the processing of detainees. 

All cases are reviewed within 72 hours by an attorney and in many cases, the person detained is released immediately. 

Two months ago, we established a special board to expedite the review of all detainees. Since then we have released over 2,500 detainees. 

We give highest priority to reviewing the records of female detainees. Fewer than 10 females are currently detained. 

We will not release any detainee guilty of serious crimes, as Saddam did when he flooded the streets with criminals in 2002. 

We now publish a complete list in Arabic daily on the CPA website at http://iraqcoalition.org/Arabic/prisoners/index.html. This list is also available at Coalition Information centers across the country and will be posted regularly at the country’s police stations and courthouses starting May 10. 

Iraq Reconstruction 

Since the liberation of Iraq, the Coalition has completed over 20,000 individual reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars. 

These projects have employed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis building and renovating schools, orphanages and medical clinics; roads, bridges and dams. Iraqis from Dohuk to Basra have worked on these projects and millions have benefited from them. 

Thousands of additional projects will be financed by over 19 billion dollars from America. Already Coalition officials are meeting with provincial and municipal leaders to hear their priorities. 

The Coalition will be accelerating these projects everywhere in country and we expect that they will create over a million and a half jobs over the next year. 

The Coalition will give priority to Iraqi firms whenever possible in order to create as many opportunities for Iraqis as possible. 

To date, the firms working on these projects have given contracts to several hundred Iraqi firms. 

Coalition military commanders and Coalition offices around the country will have an additional $500 million to spend on reconstruction projects which can be quickly completed, like fixing roads or schools, and which will provide jobs for Iraqis. 

Iraq De-Ba'athification 

The Ba'ath Party poisoned Iraqi political life and was one of the most brutal instruments of Saddam’s tyranny. There is no room in the new Iraq for Ba'athist ideology nor for Ba'athist criminals. 

Banning the party and removing from public life those who used it to commit crimes was necessary and remains necessary if we are to build a democratic Iraq. 

De-Ba'athification was and remains the right policy for Iraq. 

But many Iraqis have complained that de-Ba'athification procedures have been applied unevenly and sometimes unfairly, particularly in the education sector where the requirement for teacher and professors to join the party was strongly enforced. The result was that many teachers who were Ba'ath Party members in name only were dismissed from their jobs. 

Therefore, in coordination with the Minister of Education, the Minister of Higher Education, and the Chairman of the Supreme National De-Ba'athification Commission, we are taking steps to ensure that the policy is implemented fairly and efficiently. 

De-Ba'athification Review Committees were established last year to review the thousands of appeals from former firqah-level Ba'athists who were dismissed from the jobs but, under the de-Ba'athification procedures, have a right to apply for reinstatement. 

The decisions made by local de-Ba'athification appeals committees of the Ministry of Education will be effective immediately. 

This will allow thousands of teachers to return to work. 

Thousands more will begin receiving pensions this week. 

Those primary and secondary school teachers formerly of the rank of firqah members whose appeals have not yet been heard will have their appeal adjudicated within 20 days. 

The National De-Ba'athification Commission will handle the cases of hundreds of university professors with the same urgency. Professors who did not use their posts to intimidate others or commit crimes should be allowed to return to work promptly. 

More information will be available on the websites of the Coalition (iraqcoalition.org) and the National De-Ba'athification (www.debaath.org) websites and through Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education offices throughout Iraq.

Remembrance in Iraq 

To commemorate those who suffered the atrocities of Saddam’s regime, the Coalition has directed the establishment of a National Commission for Remembrance. Remembering is indispensable both as a comfort to the oppressed and tyrannized and as a cautionary tale for the future. 

This Commission will be part of a broader effort to come to terms with Iraq's immediate past, an effort that includes, for example, the Iraqi Special Tribunal. 

The Commission will administer a $10 million fund for remembrance and will consider proposals from across the nation on how best to memorialize the suffering of Iraq’s many communities under Saddam. 

The Commission will also seek to raise private funds to establish a national museum in Baghdad to ensure that the nation forever recalls Saddam’s depredations, such as the Iraqi sufferings during the 1991 Intifada, the 1988 Anfal campaign and Saddam's Arabization campaign that savaged Kurds, Arabs and Turcomans alike. 

Copyright © 2004 MPRM Group Limited. All rights reserved.

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