Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Iraqi military is seeking the assistance of Saddam Hussein-era military officials in a bid to stem the advance of “terrorist” groups, particularly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which continues its advance in central and northern parts of the country.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat Iraqi Ministry of Defense adviser Lt. Gen. Thamer bin Sultan Al-Tikriti said former officials who served in the military establishment during the era of Saddam Hussein will be able to find a place in the present Iraqi army. They will be organized into military units affiliated with the Iraqi army to help eradicate ISIS and similar-minded groups, the official said.
This comes after Saddam-era military and political officials have been marginalized in post-Saddam Iraq, part of the controversial de-Ba’athification process instituted following the fall of the dictator.
Tikriti, who comes from Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, said that the security situation in Baghdad has improved following the US airstrikes against ISIS’s stronghold in the north of the country. US operations have created confusion among ISIS’s ranks, he maintained.
According to the official the Iraqi military has learned from its mistakes in Mosul but this does not mean that it is anymore powerful now. Iraqi forces were routed by ISIS in June, abandoning military bases and arms to the advancing Islamist fighters as lines of communication between the troops and central command broke down.
Nevertheless, Tikriti said that he is optimistic about the future of Iraq, pointing to the positive developments taking place on the political scene with prime minister-designate Haider Al-Abadi expected to form a new government in the coming period.
Tikriti had been a prominent member of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist Party but was condemned to death by the Iraqi dictator on charges of attempting to topple the regime before he was released from Abu Ghraib prison by US forces in 2004.