Nine major political parties have agreed to disband their militias, the interim prime minister said Monday, though the agreement does not include the militia of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said about 100,000 armed individuals will enter civilian life or take jobs in the state police force or security services, under the agreement. The militias have been credited with helping oust Saddam Hussein.
“By doing this, we reward their heroism and sacrifices, while making Iraq stronger and eliminating armed forces outside of government control, “ Allawi said in a prepared statement.
None of the nine militias has been fighting the government and most are controlled by mainstream political movements represented in the government.
The U.S.-led coalition tried to persuade the militias to disband last year but failed because leaders were unwilling to give up their armed fighters at a time of deteriorating security.
Al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army did not join the agreement. Al-Sadr’s militia has been fighting coalition forces since an uprising in early April, although an agreement with Shiite leaders to stop the violence appears to be taking hold in Najaf and its twin city Kufa.
Under the agreement, most of the militias are to be phased out by 2005.
The deal includes militia members who fought for the Kurdish parties — the Kurdish Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. They battled Saddam’s forces in the northern part of the county.
Allawi said the Badr Brigade of the Supreme Counsel of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq also agreed to disband, though representatives of the party claimed negotiations had not even begun.
“The completion of these negotiations and the issuance of this order mark a watershed in establishing the rule of law, placing all armed forces under state control, and strengthening the security of Iraq,” Allawi said.
Militias that did not take part in the deal were outlawed, he said.
Other militias affected by the agreement include those of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Iraqi National Accord, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), Iraqi Hezbollah, the Iraqi Communist Party, and Dawa, a Shiite party.