12/13/2004, 00.00
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The good and the bad of US intervention according to president al-Yawar

A year after Saddam's capture, Iraq's interim president says US made many mistakes, but stresses elections will be done on schedule. He accuses Syria and Iran of fanning terrorism.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The US made a huge mistake dismantling the Iraqi army after toppling Saddam, but without the US Iraqis could never have done it alone, this according to Iraq's interim President, Ghazi al-Yawar who spoke to the BBC a year after the capture of Saddam Hussein by coalition forces on the evening of December 13, 2003, whilst on patrol in Aghwar, near Tikrit.

President al-Yawar said that dismantling the Iraqi army created a security vacuum but insisted next month's elections will take place as scheduled. Mr Yawar also said he believes "the election will be representative with voters from Sunni areas".

"The country's present security situation is terrible," he said, because "of the decision to dissolve the army, the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior. Many men with a clean record were forced out of the security forces along with the villains. It left a vacuum which is proving hard to fill as new forces are slowly assembled. But the security situation will only be solved once Iraq has "100 per cent efficient Iraqi forces", the President said.

Despite criticism of US military operations, for Mr al-Yawar US troops played a fundamental role. "On their own," he said, "Iraqis could never have toppled Saddam".

Never the less, he was confident that the country's own security forces will gain a sufficient grip "to allow British and American troops to start pulling out within a year".

Iraq's interim president also accused Iran and Syria, of condoning or actively supporting insurgents crossing their borders into Iraq. Their actions, he said, "are posing another threat to the elections scheduled for 30 January".

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