Iraq MPs Push Return to Saddam-Era Conscription Laws

Draft 'Would Reduce Unemployment,' Officials Insist

Members of the Iraqi parliament are pushing a new proposal to return the nation to the old conscription laws that the nation was under during Saddam Hussein’s rule. The proposal is still stalled in committee, with many Iraqis opposed to the return of the old system.

Proponents argue that forcing every young Iraqi man into the military would “reduce unemployment,” which is comparatively high in the nation. They are also hoping that forcing Sunnis into service would reduce sectarian tension.

During the conscription era, Iraq had an army sometimes one million strong. Currently it is estimated to be around 600,000, and despite high unemployment people aren’t flocking to this dangerous line of work.

The MPs argue that conscription would be “different” now that Iraq is under its now system, because it wouldn’t have to worry about the “whims” of a dictator. This is unlikely to convince Sunni opponents of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki,who has made himself acting Defense Minister, Interior Minister, National Security Minister and Chief of Military Staff, nor Kurdish officials who are concerned Maliki intends to invade when his military is strong enough.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.