- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2004

BAGHDAD — Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced yesterday a restructuring of Iraq’s security forces to consolidate his control and better respond to insurgents and terrorists.

He also said his government is considering imposing martial law in some cities after the June 30 turnover — a dramatic step that he promised would be taken in accordance with international law.

Mr. Allawi’s get-tough approach closely mirrors that of U.S. forces, whose deadly attack on a suspected al Qaeda safe house in Fallujah on Saturday killed 22 persons and outraged local residents.

The prime minister endorsed the missile attacks yesterday, saying, “We know that a house which had been used by terrorists had been hit. We welcome this hit on terrorists anywhere in Iraq.”

With deadly attacks expected to escalate in the nine days before the Coalition Provisional Authority hands authority to the Iraqi people, Mr. Allawi announced a sweeping reorganization of the nation’s once-mighty armed forces.

The announcement came just a week after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on “Meet the Press” that Iraqi security forces have to be willing to kill fellow Iraqis if the insurgency is to be defeated.

“I have directed that the immediate priority is to establish an effective Iraqi command-and-control system to integrate all these forces while I will have ultimate responsibility for national security,” Mr. Allawi said at a press conference.

“The Iraqi military will report to me through the armed forces chief of staff and the Ministry of Defense. The police and other security forces will be responsible to me through the minister of interior and other respective ministries,” he said.

The prime minister also criticized the disbanding of Iraq’s Ba’athist-led army by the coalition as “a mistake” and indicated that his restructuring of the security services was intended to correct that.

He said a “substantial element” of the new armed forces would be dedicated to counterterrorism efforts, particularly in border controls.

He also announced the creation of a security advisory board comprising the ministers of interior, defense, finance, national security, justice and foreign affairs, as well as the director of intelligence.

“We will use all our forces and resources with high resolve to ensure that the Iraqi people enjoy security, stability, prosperity and democracy,” he told reporters.

The press conference conducted inside the CPA’s heavily defended green zone and in front of a banner with the words “Securing Iraq’s Future” in English and Arabic was broadcast live on many Arabic TV stations.

It occurred early in a day in which insurgents killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded 11 others by detonating a roadside bomb on the dangerous road leading to Baghdad’s airport.

Also yesterday, U.S. forces clashed with guerrillas who fired mortars into a residential neighborhood in Samarra. Four insurgents were reported killed.

The U.S. military said a Marine was killed in action on Saturday in Anbar province, which includes Ramadi and Fallujah.

Mr. Allawi, a secular Shi’ite and former Ba’athist with close ties to the CIA, must act quickly to establish his legitimacy inside Iraq, where many people consider the caretaker government to be a puppet regime loyal to the American forces that created it.

His endorsement of the Fallujah missile attack brought a wince from his interior minister, Falah Hassan al-Naqib, who stood beside him on the podium. Four of Mr. al-Naqib’s bodyguards were killed Saturday night in an insurgent attack on his home.

The Fallujah attack was criticized yesterday by a commander of the Fallujah Brigade, the Iraqi army unit assembled by the coalition to police the ferociously anti-American Sunni city.

Brig. Nouri Aboud told Reuters news agency there was no evidence the destroyed house had been used by anyone except the large Iraqi family who lived there.

“We inspected the damage; we looked through the bodies of the women and children and elderly. This was a family,” he said. “There is no sign of foreigners having lived in the house.”

Coalition officials maintained yesterday that the house had been used by followers of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born terrorist leader thought to have planned many of the suicide attacks on coalition forces and their allies.

But Brig. Aboud said Zarqawi “and his men have no presence in Fallujah.”

Mr. Allawi yesterday accused Zarqawi of plotting a bomb attack last week that killed five electricity contractors in a convoy and seven bystanders in a crowded public square.

Zarqawi also is thought to have personally carried out the May 11 beheading of U.S. citizen Nicholas Berg.

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