Iraqi Government Taking on Militias, Coalition Spokesman Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2006 Politics is the best means available to the Iraqi government and the coalition to deal with armed militias in the country, a coalition spokesman said in Baghdad today.
Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is dealing with political leaders in the country to disarm the militias, and coalition officials are supporting that effort.
The goal, he said, is that the militias would disband and rely on local Iraqi security forces for protection and maintaining order. Militias that won’t engage in a political solution will be met with force, the general said.
“There's going to be those elements that are irreconcilable, that aren't going to be able to work through the political process, and those will be dealt with in a kinetic manner with direct action,” Caldwell said.
The prime minister is moving forward with a reconciliation process, but this does not mean the militias have a free hand in the meantime, Caldwell said. “If there is somebody operating outside of the law, if there is somebody who is conducting illegal activity and we're aware of it, then we will take the action immediately to stop that and to apprehend or detain whoever is associated with that,” the general said. “Nobody will operate outside the law.”
The Iraqi government is working to eradicate militia influence inside the security force structure. In the Ministry of the Interior, 3,000 people were fired for their ties to militias. Some of them are being criminally charged. “They're moving forward and addressing some of the people within that ministry that are not swearing allegiance to the government first and instead maybe in fact have allegiance to some other element,” Caldwell said.
Interior Ministry forces are going through refresher training. The ministry pulled the 8th Brigade of the 2nd National Police Division off line and put it through training. Interior replaced the entire leadership of the unit. The move, Caldwell said, is a step forward to show that the government will not allow sectarian bias to exist within the police forces.