Baghdad: Iraq's intelligence chief has warned against merging militias with government security forces, saying it would give them official cover to carry out their activities.
In a statement contradicting Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's position on the issue, Major General Mohammad Al Shahwani said, "I have reservations about merging militias into security forces because this is not the solution. The solution is to rehabilitate militia members for civil service jobs."
Al Maliki has vowed to merge powerful militias, which have close ties to ruling political parties, with security forces in an attempt to get weapons off the street.
Al Shahwani added, "Merging the militias means giving their activities an official cover at a time that the government and parliament and political powers are working on making government forces the only groups taking over security activities." He was warned that civil war could occur if weapons stay in the hands of militias.
Militias could be a volatile issue for Maliki as he tries to improve security forces and abolish sectarianism within the forces.