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Iraqi President Denies Asking Bremer to Disband Iraqi Army | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Al-Sulaymaniyah, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Kurdistan Region President Masud Barzani, secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, have denied the statements of Paul Bremer, the former US civilian governor of Iraq, to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kurdish forces were behind the decision to disband the former Iraqi army and that they threatened to secede from Iraq if the disbanding was not implemented.

President Talabani said in an exclusive statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Kurds did not know about the former civilian governor’s decision to disband the Iraq and underlined his respect for the former army except those who had committed crimes against the Iraqi people. He said: “First of all, we had no knowledge of the disbanding of the army. We did not approve this step but our view was that thousands of nationalist Iraqi soldiers and officers should be kept in the modern armed forces while Paul Bremer acted with the mentality of the loser and took this step which caused chaos and instability.” He added: “Secondly, we the Kurdish leadership (he meant Barzani too) met Bremer weeks after his arrival in Baghdad when he had already disbanded the Iraqi army on the second day of his arrival.”

Speaking from his resort of Dukan close to Al-Sulaymaniyah city, north of Iraq, he went on to say “I had held several meetings with officers in the former Iraqi army and underlined my view of the importance of keeping them in the Iraqi army and armed forced and the return of those who had left the army.” He asserted: “We as a Kurdish leadership respect the Iraqi army apart from those involved in the crimes against the sons of the people.” He pointed out that the former Iraqi army soldiers had left their military barracks in the first place and returned to their houses and “(the former army) was practically disbanded and then came Bremer’s decision to disband it officially.” Talabani also denied vehemently that the Kurds had threatened to secede or not participate in the political process if the army was not disbanded.

On his part, Barzani asserted that the Kurds’ view “was to rebuild” the former Iraqi army and not disband it. Faisal al-Sabbagh, Barzani’s press secretary, said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat: “We would like to make it clear that Paul Bremer was not faithful to the truth in his statement. The Kurds’ view at the time was to rebuild the army, not disband it.” The statement added: “Yet, the Kurds were never in favor of building the army on the old bases when it was used as a tool for killing, displacing, and committing crimes against the Kurdish and neighboring peoples.”