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Skewed Loyalties in Security Forces

Times Staff Writer

Despite U.S. efforts to promote diversity in Iraq’s security forces, the composition of the nation’s police and military organizations remains lopsided in favor of the Kurdish and religious Shiite political slates that have dominated the interim government, according to preliminary results from the Dec. 15 parliamentary election.

Fewer than 10% of the Iraqi soldiers, police officers and others who voted early because they would be on duty election day cast ballots for Sunni Arab candidates, underscoring the skewed makeup of the forces that American planners have tried to build after dissolving those that served Saddam Hussein.

U.S. officials have hinted at troubles in developing ethnically and religiously integrated units. Results of the special voting, released Monday by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, reveal armed forces heavy with loyalties to Shiite religious parties and Kurdish politicians.

Even though Kurds make up about 20% of Iraq’s population, 45% of voters in the pre-election day balloting selected the main Kurdish list, suggesting that Iraq’s security forces are loaded with pro-American Kurdish peshmerga militiamen.

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Of the 203,000 soldiers, police officers, emergency workers and prisoners who cast ballots, only about 15,000 voted for Sunni political slates. Thousands of those were presumably Sunni Arabs held at detention centers such as Abu Ghraib outside Baghdad and Camp Bucca near Basra.

U.S. military planners say they have recruited integrated units, but most Sunni Arabs drop out of the security forces soon after signing up.

About 20,000 special voters, or 10% of the participants, chose the secular list of former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.


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