US to start recruiting for Iraqi army

The US occupation authority in Iraq has said it is to begin recruiting for a new Iraqi army later this month.

    Sacked soldiers: How can we feed
    our families?

    US civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, announced on Monday that the recruitment drive for the New Iraqi Corps would begin before the end of June.


    “We are fully aware of the difficulties that have been created”, Bremer said, referring to the consequences of last month’s dissolution of the Iraqi armed forces, several security bodies and the defence ministry in which some 400,000 people were fired.


    Bremer’s comments followed a demonstration by more than 3,000 former soldiers outside the city centre headquarters of the US-led administration.


    Soldiers threaten US


    Frustrated by the new situation they are facing, some soldiers threatened to take up arms against the US-led occupation forces.


    “All of us will become suicide bombers”, said Khairi Jassim, a former warrant officer. “I will turn my six daughters into bombs to kill the Americans”.


    Another former warrant officer, Sabah Abdallah, complained of the little money remaining with him. “I have only 750 dinars (60 cents) in my pocket. How can I feed my family?” he asked.


    Bremer promised that the first ex-servicemen would be drafted as soon as next week to prepare the barracks used by the dissolved Iraqi armed forces for the new US-sponsored army.


    However, the US overseer in the country said only “demobilised enlisted men” would be offered a return to the army.


    He warned that occupation forces would not tolerate threats of suicide bombings, saying those prepared to carry out military operations against occupation forces “will be dealt with by the full force of law”.


    Tribes disgruntled


    Bremer's announcement coincided with growing anger of Iraqi tribes at the US occupation authority's failure to restore law and order and provide essential services.


    Iraqi tribal leaders and Ambassador Hume Horan of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) held a meeting that turned into a barrage of sharp criticism of the US management of Iraq.


    Tribal leaders warned of the possibility of a popular uprising if US troops stayed in the country.


    “We thank the coalition for liberating Iraq… But are we occupied or liberated? I swear to God, if this is occupation, all our children, women and men, young and old, will die rather than accept occupation”, Sheikh Fsal al-Kaoud told Horan.


    Horan tried to calm the disgruntled tribal chiefs, saying: “Occupation is not a nice word but yes, what we have now is occupation”.


    Speaking in perfect Arabic, he told them that the objective of this occupation was the establishment of “a new, free Iraq”.


    Many of the tribal leaders muttered in protest. Their tribes are heavily armed and oppose the US disarmament campaign which began earlier this week.


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