Sunday, April 27, 2008

Separatist political blocs favor a national draft !

It was reported yesterday that a Supreme Council member of parliament (who is also the head of the Badr Organization) called for re-institution of the Law on Compulsory Military Service--in fact he claimed, according to the report in Azzaman, that "the state" had already decided on this.

Today Aswat al Iraq reports that other politicians are in favor of this idea too, highlighting statements in support of the idea by Kurdish and Supreme Council members. For instance, they quote one Mohsin al-Saadoun, a member of parliament for the Kurdish bloc, who said a compulsory draft would be the answer to those who claim that the army is sectarian. Al-Saadoun added (in answer to an objection raised in the Azzaman report yesterday) that "a compulsory military service law is referred to in paragraph 9 of the last chapter of the Constitution." He said the Kurdistan alliance supports legislation for establishing a draft, but with "different standards" from those of the prior law (which was abolished five years ago by Bremer).

The other strong advocate of a draft law quoted in this article is a Supreme Council person who is a member of the parliamentary committee on security and defence, one Hasan al-Saneed. He said a Compulsory Military Service law will be legislated in the current legislative session, once it has been studied by the Defense Ministry. And he said the Constutition says such a law is, in his words, "necessary".

However (the VOI journalist goes on), the Defense Ministry thinks a law setting up a draft is "needed in Iraq", it would be difficult to "apply" at the present time. In the words of Mohamed al-Askari, a Ministry adviser, "There has been a discussion of the pros and cons of this law, and we find that it is necessary to enact such a law in Iraq, but that it would be difficult to apply at this stage."

Like the Kurdish and SupremeCouncil politicians, this Defence Ministry spokesperson says "the application of such a law will free us from sectarianism in the army", but as for implementation he says only that it "may be possible in the future". He referred specifically to the lack of adequate facilities for training large numbers, adding "especially considering the present times require a particularly well-trained army." Al-Askari said it is possible to have a scaled service-requirements, for instance exemption for people with bachelors or masters degrees, one-year for people with high school diplomas, one and a half years for middle-school, and two years required service for those having graduated only from elementary school. He said a draft law will be sent to the government once the Defense Ministry is finished studying it.


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