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Iraq Dismisses 1,300 Shiite Army And Police

From an overjoyed Associated Press:

Iraqi soldiers on patrol in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on April 12.

1,300 Iraqi troops, police dismissed

By BUSHRA JUHI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government has dismissed about 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted or refused to fight during last month’s offensive against Shiite militias and criminal gangs in Basra, officials said Sunday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said 921 police and soldiers were fired in Basra. They included 37 senior police officers ranging in rank from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general.

The others were dismissed in Kut, one of the Shiite cities where the fight had spread.

Last month, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the security forces to confront armed groups in Basra, Iraq’s second largest city.

But they met fierce resistance and the attack quickly ground to a halt as fighting flared across the Shiite south and Baghdad.

Since then, government officials have revealed that about 1,000 members of the security forces — including an entire infantry battalion — had mutinied, on some cases handing over vehicles and weapons to the militias.

The majority of Iraqi soldiers and police are Shiites.

Speaking in Basra, Khalaf said those dismissed included 421 police officers and 500 soldiers who had not returned to duty in the southern port city and would be tried by military courts.

Some of them were sympathetic with these lawbreakers, some refused to (go into) battle for political or national or sectarian or religious reasons,” Khalaf said.

But he said that those who returned in coming days and could prove they had been prevented from doing so by the militias would be reinstated.

In Kut, a senior police officer said 400 local policemen have been sacked for refusing orders to combat the militias, including the Mahdi Army of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the Interior Ministry in Baghdad had ordered the policemen removed from duty on Saturday.

Although fighting in Basra eased in late March, security operations are continuing…

This is both bad news and good news.

It’s appalling that so many in the Iraqi army and police lack loyalty, discipline or courage. But it is encouraging that the government is actually doing something about it and firing them.

Of course the media will have a field day with all of this. They don’t seem to understand that it means we will have to be in Iraq that much longer.

Still, we really have nothing to worry about, since Mr. Obama claims to know the difference between Shia and Shiites.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, April 13th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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