British ambassador to Iraq admits errors

Dec. 14, 2004 at 8:18 AM
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BAGHDAD, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- British Ambassador to Iraq Edward Chaplin has admitted the coalition erred in dismantling Iraq's security forces after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"I think everyone realizes with hindsight that perhaps things could have been done differently," he told the BBC via videolink from Baghdad.

His comments came after Iraqi Interim President Ghazi al-Yawer told the BBC disbanding the Iraqi army was a huge mistake, and had created a security vacuum that is partly to blame for the current violence.

However, Chaplin said, the army "wasn't so much disbanded as it simply melted away."

"There was a lot of very strong feeling at the time that it was quite unthinkable to rehabilitate an instrument of Saddam Hussein's regime," he said in the Monday night interview.

It is now appropriate, however, to reconsider the situation and perhaps be more flexible in the "de-Ba'athification" of the country.

It is now clear equipment, training and numbers of people are not sufficient to create effective security forces, he said, and proper leadership must be created.

This may involve bringing back some people from the previous establishment with "proper vetting," he said.

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