Baghdad fears rise of 'Iraqi Hitler'
LONDON, England -- Iraq's interim president has criticized U.S. and British forces for dismantling Iraqi security forces and warned that long-term instability could give rise to an "Iraqi Hitler."
Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday the decision to dismantle Saddam Hussein's defense and interior ministries contributed to the violence and disorder seen since the Iraqi dictator was captured a year ago.
"Definitely dissolving the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior was a big mistake at that time," al-Yawer told BBC radio.
"We could have screened people out instead of screening them in and this could have saved us a lot of hassle and problems," he said.
In remarks published Monday in the Arabic press, al-Yawer also warned of a replay of post-World War I Germany, when Adolf Hitler came to power, if Iraqis continue to feel humiliated and despondent.
"This could in the long term create an environment in which an Iraqi Hitler could emerge like the one created by the defeat of Germany and the humiliation of Germans in World War I," al-Yawer told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.
Al-Yawer -- a Sunni Muslim who was chosen for the largely symbolic post of president in June -- also urged Iraq's neighbors to break their "negative silence" about attacks in Iraq and play a positive role in helping stabilize the country.
"When a fire breaks out in your neighbor's house you should act quickly to put it out, not only for the sake of your neighbor but also so that you are not forced to put it out in your own home when it spreads there," the president told the newspaper.
Al-Yawer has said parliamentary elections should go ahead on January 30 as scheduled, and told BBC radio he expected more violence in Iraq aimed at derailing the polls.
"Their tactical target is to undermine the electoral process and to stop us having our first elections. This is why we see it is a challenge we have to meet.
"The problem is we are not fearing representation, we are fearing the time of the elections. If people can feel safe enough to go and cast their vote," he said.
On the issue of dismantling Saddam's security forces, al-Yawer said it would be necessary to reinstate some of the officers from the pre-war army and security forces in order to boost the effectiveness of the new security system.
"I firmly believe that the security situation will not be solved unless we have 100 percent efficient Iraqi forces, and that is the message that I took to Washington," he told the BBC.
Al-Yawer was in London, where he briefly stopped after a visit to the United States.
Despite the chaos of the past year, al-Yawer insisted that the overthrow of Saddam by the U.S.-led coalition had been good for his country.
"Changing Saddam's regime, toppling Saddam is the biggest plus that we will never regret happening," he said.
"He established a dynasty of villains. There was no way on earth Iraqis could have pushed him out of government.
"We had to have a surgical intervention to do so, and I think this is the biggest positive thing that makes all the negative things relatively secondary."