Talabani Pledges Militias will Join Iraqi Army
Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and current president of the Interim Governing Council, pledged that his paramilitary forces would be melded into the national Iraqi army eventually, In an interview with al-Zaman, he again urged a Federal system on Iraq, such that both provincial and federal prerogatives would be safeguarded. He looked forward to the emergence of religious pilgrimage (especially Shiite pilgrimage to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala) as a major industry in Iraq, generating substantial sums for the country. (He is right about that, and it shows how Iraq-minded the Kurdish leaders are that he focused on that, since the Shiite south is far from his ordinary purview.) He also stressed that he thought Egypt had a major role to play in Iraq reconstruction, especially Egyptian firms. (In fact, Egypt has been too worried about the security situation to play a major role in post-war Iraq, and al-Zaman quoted the Eygptian minister of labor today as saying that it was not time to send Egyptian workers to Iraq).
On a related point, al-Sharq al-Awsat ran a long editorial today on the announced plans of the Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq to disarm its paramilitary branch, the Badr Brigade. The paper argued that this step was necessary for democracy in Iraq. That is right, but the problem is that the disarming of this militia has been announced repeatedly and yet they still show up in news reports as armed. So this is something I’ll believe when I see it. The Badr Corps was trained by the Iranian revolutionary guards, and many political forces inside Iraq, as well as neighbors such as Jordan, are afraid of it.