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IRAQ: Bremer dissolves the army

The US governor of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, has ordered the disbanding of the Iraqi armed forces and several security bodies that formed the backbone of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's rule, and has declared them illegal (Reuters 5/26/03). The ministries of defense and information are among the institutions being dissolved, as well as the military and security courts, the Iraqi Olympic Committee, and the Republican Guard units. "The Coalition Provisional Authority plans to create, in the near future, a new Iraqi corps. This is the first step in forming a national self-defense capability for a free Iraq," Bremer's office said. It said the new corps would be "professional, nonpolitical, military effective, and representative of all Iraqis." It is estimated that about 400'000 people, mostly military personnel, will lose their jobs. The Iraqi army has already been disbanded in practice by the US-led war that toppled Hussein's regime last month. The US administration has also banned the ruling Ba'ath Party and vowed to prevent the party's top officials from holding public office. The decision came after the UN Security Council granted the US and Britain broad powers to run postwar Iraq and use its abundant oil resources to finance its reconstruction, when it voted to lift 13 years of international sanctions imposed on Iraq over its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The UN resolution approved yesterday ends 13 years of economic sanctions and authorizes the US-led coalition to administer the country. US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte has said that the resolution is a precondition for a six month-long phasing-out of the existing oil-for-food program for Iraq. This is extremely serious. The 400,000 people, mostly military, who will lose their jobs, will be malcontents with few skills for civilian life. Expect them to plot. On the other hand, building an army from scratch, and training it to reach a professional level will take time.

Ronald Hilton - 5/27/03