Can You Fire Deserters?
Nouri al-Maliki intends to answer this metaphysical question.
The Iraqi government has dismissed 1,300 soldiers and policemen who deserted or refused to fight during last month’s Shiite-on-Shiite battles in Basra, it said Sunday.
The announcement followed the admission that more than 1,000 members of the security forces had laid down their weapons during the fight, which Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki characterized as a campaign to restore law and order to Basra, a strategic and oil-rich southern city.
Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said 500 soldiers and 421 policemen were fired in Basra, including 37 senior police officers up to the rank of brigadier general. Police officials said the remainder were fired in Kut.
“Some of them were sympathetic with these lawbreakers, some refused to battle for political or national or sectarian or religious reasons,” General Khalaf told The Associated Press in Basra.