WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has neutralized Iraq’s U.S.-trained and -equipped military, a report said.
The Brookings Institution said Al Maliki purged the Iraqi military of commanders suspected of disloyalty. In a report, the institution said those forced out by the Shi’ite Al Maliki included some of the most professional Sunni officers trained by the United States.
“Unfortunately, despite the boost it gave him, Prime Minister Al Maliki saw this largely apolitical and professional military as a threat to himself,” the report, titled “Iraq Military Situation Report,” said.
Author Kenneth Pollack said Al Maliki’s purge began in 2009 when he replaced Sunni commanders with Shi’ite loyalists, many of them rejected by the U.S. military. He said the prime minister suspected Sunni commanders as secret supporters of the former Saddam Hussein regime.
Pollack played down the U.S. training of the Iraqi military. He said U.S. officers rewarded performance but only marginally improved the effectiveness of Baghdad’s military.
“So, beginning in 2009-2010, he began to remove the capable, apolitical officers that the United States had painstakingly put in place throughout the Iraqi command structure,” the report said. “Instead, he put in men loyal to himself, often because they had been the ones passed over or removed by the Americans. The result was a heavily politicized and far less competent officer corps.”
The report said Al Maliki also reversed nearly a decade of U.S. training and mentoring of the Iraqi military. The prime minister closed U.S.-established training facilities and used the military and security agencies against his rivals.
Full article: Report: Iraq’s Maliki purged military of top U.S.-trained officers (World Tribune)