ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Government appointed a Baath-regime era officer as head of Kirkuk security, one month after the disputed city's takeover by Iraqi Forces and Shia militias from the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
After Iraqi troops and the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi launched an attack on Kirkuk on Oct. 16, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi assigned Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi of the elite counter-terror forces as head of Kirkuk security.
In an old video which has recently resurfaced, however, al-Saadi appears in a military uniform praising former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein while in his presence at an event.
“It is a great honor for me, my family and tribe to meet you [Saddam]… on behalf of my unit, I promise that we will become your sword to face anyone who attacks Iraq” al-Saadi says in the video.
During the Baath regime's rule, al-Saadi led several missions and operations against the Kurds and other minority groups in Iraq for which Saddam Hussein awarded him four medals.
The de-Baathification law introduced after the US-led liberation of Iraq -with elements subsequently included in the Iraqi Constitution - allows for the removal of all alleged Baathists from public office and the civil service, preventing them from future employment in the government and within the security and intelligence apparatus.
Head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council Rebwar Talabani previously told Kurdistan 24 that Kirkuk was now suffering from a campaign led by Shia militias to transform the diverse province into a Shia stronghold.
As of Nov. 2, over 183,000 civilians have been displaced since the attack Iraqi army and Shia militias attacks on the Peshmerga forces, most of them Kurds, with 79,000 people having fled the city of Kirkuk according to the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq.
Editing by Nadia Riva