Iraq's Interior Ministry fired 62,000 employees accused of corruption and launched an intensive campaign to dismantle sectarianism among security forces, Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani wrote in a U.S. newspaper Sunday.
"We've tackled corruption by firing 62,000 employees and begun to dismantle sectarianism by prohibiting all political activity by police officers and creating a force made up of all Iraqis, Shiite, Sunni and Kurd," Bolani wrote in Chicago Tribune.
Following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the Iraqi Interior Ministry, which employs half a million people, was marred by corruption, sectarian conflict, and mismanagement, which the minister wrote “were pervasive, preventing us from rebuilding our infrastructure and returning a sense of normalcy to the country.”
Today the inroads in security mark a dramatic turnaround from the early years following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, Bolani added.
He said Iraq succeeded in turning a corner in maintaining law and order."We now have a chance to be the first workable Arab democracy," Bolani wrote.
"It is my hope that again the ministry will be a mirror of Iraq, only this time for a country united and at peace."
The ministry has expanded its function in recent years from mainly supervising police to the management of “forces, equipment and missions far more numerous than those for which the institution was originally designed,” according to a recent study by the Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations at the College of William and Mary.
In response to the deteriorated security situation since 2004, the ministry created a forced called the Special Police Commandos, later known as the National Police. But as this force massively grew while the national military was still under formation, it became one of the primary sources of sectarian violence, particularly between 2005 and 2006, the study said.
Bolani wrote that the Iraqi police service, the national police, the border patrol and other law enforcement agencies "continue to swell with new recruits, eager to maintain the stability necessary for Iraq to succeed."
Bolani also acknowledged the difficulties still laying ahead saying, "challenges remain, of course, as we continue to combat militia infiltration and the death rattle of the insurgents, but momentum is on our side."