14.05.2004 - AMMAN (AFP)
- A fresh batch of 959 Iraqi police cadets graduated from a US-led training course in Jordan and prepared to return home to face a "critical" security situation.
"Iraq is currently facing a critical situation, particularly on the security level and that is why the concerned parties are ... building a capable security force to implement the law," Iraqi Police General Talib al-Hamdani said Thursday at the graduation ceremony.
Hundreds of members of the new Iraqi police force have been killed during the US-led occupation and the forces have complained that they lack equipment -- radios, flak jackets, heavy weapons -- to confront well-armed insurgents.
The rebels accuse them of being collaborators.
Speaking to representatives of the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq, Jordanian police officials and Western diplomats, Hamdani insisted the new police force will not be politicised.
CPA representative Steven Casteel told the recruits they will play a key role in developing a "free and new Iraq".
Thursday's graduates were the fourth and largest group to complete the eight-week programme launched late last year.
Jordan has agreed to train 32,000 Iraqi police over the next two years to help rebuild its war-torn eastern neighbour. It is also training Iraqi military personnel
So far 2,859 Iraqi police cadets have completed the training course taught by Jordanian and international instructors.
The course is given at the Jordan International Police Training Center on the windswept plains of Moaqar southeast of Amman and includes classes in international law, human rights, riot control and English.
Washington has earmarked around one billion dollars this year to build from scratch an Iraqi police force, expected to total 85,000.
To complement the police in Iraq's 18 provinces, the coalition has also established a 15,000-strong paramilitary Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
Jordan, one of Washington's closest Arab ally, was opposed to the US-led war on Iraq last year, but has taken an active part in rebuilding Iraqi institutions.