The Iraqi government issued a plea on Wednesday to former junior officers in Saddam Hussein's military who were sacked by the U.S. occupiers after his fall to return to the army as it battles a fierce Sunni Arab insurgency.
Six weeks before an election, there may be a political as well as practical security motive behind the move; the loss of army pay has been a major source of discontent among Saddam's fellow minority Sunni Arabs, who dominated the officer corps.
Within weeks of Saddam's fall in April 2003, U.S. administrator Paul Bremer disbanded at a stroke Iraq's 400,000- strong armed forces and security agencies. U.S. officials said it simply formalized the fact that the army had evaporated in the aftermath of the war, with soldiers deserting en masse.
Bush claims that setting a timetable for U.S. withdrawal would embolden our enemies, whereas pleading for Saddam's officers to come back to the Iraqi Army is sure to scare the shit out of them.