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Iraqi PM reorganizes forces to fight terrorism

Iraq's interim prime minister Sunday announced a restructuring of the country's security forces, saying all Iraqi resources would be directed toward fighting terrorism.
Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allaw
Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi prepares to meet with three U.S. senators visiting Baghdad on Saturday.Ceerwan Aziz / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

Iraq's interim prime minister Sunday announced a restructuring of the country's security forces, saying all Iraqi resources would be directed toward fighting terrorism.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi appealed for more international help in the battle against terrorism, asking outside countries to bolster their support to Iraq's beleaguered forces -- particularly in terms of equipment.

"Until our forces are fully capable, we will continue to need support from our friends," Allawi told reporters.

"We hope that additional international support will be forthcoming in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution 1346, also from Arabic and Islamic nations," he said. "Assistance for the protection of United Nations efforts in Iraq would be especially appreciated."

Allawi was asked about his response to Saturday's U.S. airstrike against what the Americans said was a hideout of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi terror network in Fallujah. The Health Ministry said at least 16 people were killed, and an Iraqi security officer in the Sunni Muslim city said there was no evidence of foreign fighters among the dead.

Allawi said "we welcome" such strikes against terrorists "anywhere in Iraq" but added that he was told of the attack only a short time beforehand. "This pattern will change" after the handover of sovereignty June 30, he said.

Martial law considered
Allawi acknowledged that the decision by U.S.-led coalition authorities to disband the Iraqi army was a mistake and that the government was considering "emergency law" in certain, unspecified regions to bring the situation under control.

"We might impose some kind of martial law in some places if necessary in accordance with the law and in respect to the human rights and the international law, Allawi said. "Many issues are being discussed, and we hope to discuss them this week. We will do our best to strike the anti-Iraq forces."

As part of the restructuring, Allawi announced creation of a ministerial-level committee for national security including among others the ministers of defense, interior, foreign, justice, and finance.

"I have developed a security strategy and have advised Iraqi security structures to improve our posture to fulfill this vital responsibility," he said "I have presented the Iraqi vision for our security strategy to our friends."

He also announced establishment of a Center for Joint Operations "to control all activities related to national security."

Amnesty for insurgents possible
Afterward, Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Naqib told The Associated Press that the government was also considering an amnesty for insurgents who were not personally involved in murders.

Allawi's comments at a news conference came amid a surge of bloody attacks intended to undermine his fledgling regime before the handover of power on June 30.

Many of the attacks have targeted police and other security services, who have been slowly taking over security tasks in the weeks before the transfer of sovereignty. One of the most vicious attacks occurred Thursday, when a car bomb exploded outside a military recruitment station, killing 35 and wounding 145.

Most of the victims were poor Iraqis desperate to take dangerous jobs in the Iraqi security forces because of a lack of alternatives in a country with up to 45 percent unemployment. They took their chances at the recruitment center in Baghdad even though a car bombing killed 47 people there in February.

More than 300 people have been killed in attacks on police stations and recruitment centers since September.