Iraq wants to return obligatory military service
Monday, 19 November 2012, 02:48 GMT
The Kurdish Globe
By Salih Waladbagi--Erbil
People can pay money instead of serving in the military
A member of the Defense and Security Committee in Iraq's National Assembly has said that the committee has prepared a draft of obligatory national military service and will send it to office of General Commanding of Armed Forces and Ministry of Defense in order to reach a final draft.
Judge Zamili in a statement told Mada Newspaper that the draft will be discussed in the coming weeks, adding that it may make a noise among political factions.
"Iraq has a big military force in the region and we will try to organize our youths through legislation," he said.
He furthermore stated that some political factions are afraid to support the draft in case they lose their supporters. He added that according to the draft the maximum duration of military service is one full-year-serving which has been designed for illiterates, and those who do not want to serve can pay an amount of money instead.
According to the draft, national military service will be obligatory and every Iraqi citizen should serve the country as a soldier. The eligible age starts from 18. But some of Iraqi factions are against the draft, especially Maliki's State of Law.
Fariq Muhammad, spokesperson of Iraq's Ministry of Defense, said that preparing such a draft is to return military service, adding that the ministry will also try to send it to the Council of Ministers as soon as possible.
National military service was obligatory in 1935 and every Iraqi had to serve the country, but after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to Iraq both military service and military forces were suspended by an order from Paul Bremer, who is most notable for his role as the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq following the 2003 invasion.
According to the draft, military service would be six months for college graduates, and nine months for high school graduates.
"Illiterates have to serve one full year and those who finish their national military service duration successfully will have the right to apply to serve within the Iraqi military forces," the draft read.
Parts of Iraqi political parties are in opposition to the draft very strongly. Among Shiite National Alliance there are different points of views on the draft. Some Shiite politicians believe that the draft is kind of an effort to militarize the society and return signs of dictatorship in Iraq.
Abbas Bayati, an MP from Maliki's State of Law and member of Defense and Security Committee in Iraq's Parliament, told Sabah newspaper that 'new Iraq' does not need obligatory national military service because Iraq is committed to democracy and rule of law, adding it also needs a large budget to be allocated for.
In another hand, Sadr's Ahrar faction described the draft as an important legislation. Sadrists believe the draft will be a significant motivation for making national sense alive among Iraqis. Sadrists also look at it as a chance to decrease joblessness in the country because there is a division in the draft saying those who finish their service successfully can apply to continue serving in military forces.
"Those who are trying to return obligatory military service believe that they can make a balance inside military forces through the draft. Another reason is that 'age' is a measure and none of Iraq's political parties can use military for its benefit," Hassan Jihad, an MP from Kurdistani List and member of Defense and Security Committee in Iraqi National Assembly, told a Kurdish satellite channel.
In Kurdistan Region national military service is voluntary since 1991 and no one has been obliged to apply to serve in military forces.
Jabar Yawar, secretary of Kurdistan's Ministry of Peshmarga, said that MPs neither in Iraq's National Assembly, nor in Kurdistan's Parliament discussed such a draft, adding passing legislation like 'obligatory national military service' is not that easy.
In addition, Anwar Haji Othman, a high military official in Kurdistan's Ministry of Peshmarga, believes that no one can force Iraqis to serve in military.
"They cannot forcefully impose it and ideas like that will not come true without a national consensus between all the political parties," he said.
Othman said the best military system is to follow voluntary military service rather than obligatory, adding people are free and it is not fair to oblige to serve in the military.
The first Iraqi military force established during British colonialism in 1921. Currently, Iraq's military force has 15 divisions and 350,000 soldiers.