CHICAGO (AFP) — Iraq has fired 62,000 employees accused of corruption and is dismantling sectarianism among its police — signs that it has turned a corner en route to eventual self-rule, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani wrote in a US newspaper Sunday.
He wrote in the Chicago Tribune newspaper that the firings occurred within his Interior ministry, which employs a half-million workers.
“We’ve tackled corruption by firing 62,000 employees and begun to dismantle sectarianism by prohibiting all political activity by police officers and creating a force made up of all Iraqis, Shiite, Sunni and Kurd,” Bolani wrote in his opinion piece in The Tribune.
“It is my hope that again the ministry will be a mirror of Iraq, only this time for a country united and at peace.”
Bolani wrote that the Iraqi police service, the national police, the border patrol and other law enforcement agencies “continue to swell with new recruits, eager to maintain the stability necessary for Iraq to succeed.”
He said the inroads in security mark a dramatic turnaround from the years after Saddam Hussein was deposed by US troops.
“During the first few years after Saddam Hussein’s regime fell, Iraq was an unmitigated disaster. Corruption, sectarian conflict, agitation from outside forces and general mismanagement were pervasive, preventing us from rebuilding our infrastructure and returning a sense of normalcy to the country,” the minister wrote.
But he said Iraq has succeeded in turning a corner in maintaining law and order. “We now have a chance to be the first workable Arab democracy,” Bolani wrote.
“Challenges remain, of course, as we continue to combat militia infiltration and the death rattle of the insurgents, but momentum is on our side.”