Iraq bars plans to reinstate conscription
Iraq is taking a U-turn after it had planned on reinstating conscription nearly two decades after the armed forces were dissolved.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani announced Tuesday that his government would not re-establish military conscription, a proposal met with opposition from the general public.
Serving in the military was mandatory in Iraq from 1935 to 2003 when the United States invaded the country and overthrew then-President Saddam Hussein before disbanding the army and the security services.
A little over a year ago, the government before Al-Sudani's submitted a bill to reinstate conscription.
A few months later, Iraq elected a new parliament, though Al-Sudani's government was only approved in October, a year into an Iraqi political deadlock.
The Iraqi Coordination Framework's nomination of Al-Sudani was a spark that ignited tension between the framework and the Sadrist movement.
The latter's supporters staged a sit-in in front of Parliament for about a month, but the coordinating framework did not back down from its candidate and insisted on the formation of a government with full powers while Al-Sadr demanded the dissolution of Parliament and early elections.
Several pieces of legislation, including the conscription proposal, "have been withdrawn... as they do not correspond with the government's direction", Sudani said.
The bill put forward by former Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's government, according to Iraqi MP Yasser Iskander Watout, the legislative proposal would constitute that young men between the age of 18 and 35 would have to serve mandatory military service for terms between three and 18 months depending on their level of education, and would be granted allowances of around 700,000 Iraqi Dinars.
Iraqis largely opposed the bill, which was reportedly unlikely to have been approved by Parliament.
The first reading of the bill aiming to reinstate military conscription in Iraq was postponed until today after it was supposed to take place on Sunday.
Watout stated that if the law was passed it would take around two years to fully implement it, noting that those who are only sons or breadwinners would be exempted from the service.
Although the bill has gained support from some legislators following its announcement, it also received criticism from lawmakers that considered passing it would backfire from its original purpose of promoting "patriotism".
Former Minister of Electricity in Iraq Louai al-Khatib pointed out that as the unemployment rate in Iraq is around 40% of young men eligible for work, it is more vital to "create centers for professional training" rather than making them serve mandatory military conscription.