Iraqi officials admit: Our military is dysfunctional

With American troops scheduled to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year, it has long been clear that the withdrawal would leave Iraq without many advanced military capabilities, including fighter aircraft and other sophisticated equipment.

But with Iraqi military and police power increasingly concentrated under Maliki, there is also increasing concern that Iraq’s military could be seen as an agent of the country’s Shiite majority, a perception that would inflame sectarian tension.

In addition to serving as prime minister, Maliki for the past six months has retained three additional titles — acting simultaneously as head of Iraq’s defense, intelligence and police ministries. He has said political squabbles have prevented him from carrying out a commitment to apportion authority over the security branches among Iraq’s three main sectarian blocs, as he promised when he formed a government in December.

Since then, Baghdad-based elements of the forces have repeatedly arrested political protesters, carried out questionable raids on offices of Iraqi journalists and, according to leading Sunnis, dismissed more than 600 officers solely because of their political affiliations.