The Al-Iraqiyya coalition, led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has demanded that “the re-enlisting of the former Iraqi army’s officers be not politicized or used as a political pressure card against certain parties. The re-enlisting of officers must not be limited to certain provinces and not others.” The political bloc also demanded the release of one of Saddam Hussein’s former defense ministers, Sultan Hashim, asserting that “he was not part of the decision-making circles.”
Al-Iraqiyya issued a statement saying that the “the decision to re-enlist army officers is advantageous to the nation and it represents a right for the country, because the country would greatly benefit from the officers’ experience and expertise, and this would help mobilize all efforts and energies to build Iraq. This right [to re-enlist officers] must include all Iraqi provinces and should not depend on the mood of certain officials.”
The statement added: “All former Iraqi army officers are highly professional. During the reign of the former regime, they carried out orders in compliance with military rules and customs. They were not decision-makers like the officers of today. Those former officers gained wide experience that should not be overlooked for political reasons. As is noted in the Iraqi constitution and based on the principle of citizenship, most of these officers are entitled to complete their service, retire or be transferred to civilian jobs, each according to their experience.”
The statement continued: “Former Defense Minister Lt. General Sultan Hashim is one of the Iraqi military institution’s most loyal and professional sons. He should not be excluded from the decision to grant retirement to former officers. Hashim should be released with the rest of the officers, as he has been working and performing his duties according to military and professional ethics, and was not involved in any decision-making, whether at the political or military level [during the rule of Saddam Hussein].”
It continued: “What has applied to the former Iraqi army officers in Mosul, who were re-enlisted or granted retirement according to decisions taken by the prime minister, should also be applied to Lt. Gen. Sultan Hashim, as he is also one of the province’s officers. The Iraqi officers and the people of Mosul will not rest soundly until Hashim is released from prison. He is seen as one the city’s icons and is a military mentor. He should not remain in prison, especially given that he did not have any political say during the reign of the former regime, and this is something everyone knows.”
The statement added, “The decision to re-enlist former officers or grant them retirement must be national, and not arbitrary. It must be carried out the same way in all provinces, be it Mosul, Saladin, Anbar, Karbala, Najaf or Basra, and in all of Iraq.”
In another development, the leadership of the second brigade in Nineveh announced that it had finished reviewing thousands of applications by former officers wishing to return to service. The military leaders have now stopped accepting further applications, as per instructions from the Ministry of Defense.
Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has sanctioned the re-enlistment of former army officers from the provinces of Nineveh, Anbar and Kirkuk.
The chief of the brigade, Ali Al-Furaiji, said that “the Ministry of Defense has agreed to re-enlist former army officers according to specific regulations.”
“We received thousands of applications for officers of different ranks who wish to return to military service. Following the instructions of the Ministry of Defense, we stopped taking further applications. The operations’ leadership in Anbar has announced that it will speak with former officers from the province who wish to be re-enlisted,” said al-Furaiji.