Iraqi National Congress forces to help in Baghdad policing

14 April 2003
The Pentagon has ordered that a force of Iraqi exiles be deployed to Baghdad and other Iraqi towns to help restore law and order, and prevent the widespread looting that has taken place since the fall of the Baathist regime, the Washington Post reported on 13 April. The lightly-armed Free Iraqi Forces (FIF), linked to Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, will carry out policing work alongside US forces. About 600 fighters were flown to a base outside Nasiriya last week where they underwent basic training. While the capital is in desperate need of policing, and locals have criticised the Americans' failure to do more to maintain order, the deployment of forces linked to Chalabi is likely to be controversial, as many see it as the beginning of an attempt to create an embryonic political administration, sidelining other opposition groups. The FIF is composed of volunteer Iraqi exiles, who will be deployed largely to their home towns and cities.

A US-sponsored meeting is planned for 15 April in Baghdad of various Iraqi opposition groups to begin discussing the shape of a post-war political settlement. 'We expect this to be the first in a series of regional meetings that will provide a forum for Iraqis to discuss their vision of the future and their ideas regarding the Iraqi Interim Authority,' said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. The Tehran-based Shia Muslim opposition group, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), said it would not attend as the shape of an interim administration should be decided solely by Iraqis and not under the tutelage of the US.

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