Ministry of Interior (Iraq)

Republic of Iraq
Ministry of Interior
وزارة الداخلية
Agency overview
Employees 380,430
Annual budget $3.8 billion
Minister responsible

The Ministry of Interior (MOI) is the government body charged with overseeing policing and border control in Iraq.[1] The MOI comprises several agencies, including the Iraqi Police, Highway Patrol, Traffic Department, Emergency Response Unit, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, and Department of Border Enforcement. Following passage of the Facilities Protection Service Reform Law, the Ministry absorbed FPS personnel previously spread among other ministries.[2] The MOI has approximately 380,430 employees, and the Ministry of Finance approved US$3.8 billion for its 2008 budget, representing a 21% growth over the previous year.[2]:37

Under President Saddam Hussein, the ministry performed a wide range of functions, including keeping Iraq free of Hussein's enemies and others deemed "undesirable."[1] When the United States and coalition forces found and captured Hussein in the Iraq War, the ministry was not dissolved, unlike the defense ministry and intelligence agencies. Combined Joint Task Force 7 planned to hand over policing and internal security duties as soon as possible.[1] Instead, the ministry was merely restructured.[1]

Federal Police (FP)

See also: Iraqi police

The Federal Police (FP), sometimes called the National Police, is a gendarmerie-type paramilitary force designed to bridge the gap between the local police and the army. This allows the MOI to project power across provinces and maintain law and order, while an effective community police is developed. Although called police, the force has been trained primarily for military operations.

Amid frequent allegations of abuse and other illegal activities, in the fall of 2006 the Iraqi government decided to reform and retrain all FP units. The FP transformation yielded a police organization capable of performing criminal investigations as well as tactical operations, and included a reorganization that resulted in the replacement of two division headquarters with a federal police headquarters.[3]

FP units are equipped with small arms, machine guns, pick-up trucks, and SUVs. The mechanized battalions are equipped with light armored vehicles.[3]

Department of Border Enforcement (DBE)

Mashan border fort in Sulaminiyah, Iraq

The DBE is tasked with securing and protecting Iraq’s international borders from unlawful entry of both personnel and materiel. The DBE mans 405 border structures. As of March 2010, the DBE has approximately 40,000 personnel assigned, organized into 5 regions, 12 brigades and 38 battalions.

Facilities Protection Service

The Facilities Protection Service has more than 150,000 personnel who work for 26 ministries and eight independent directorates. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some of them are unreliable and responsible for violent crimes. Former Prime Minister Maliki announced a reform to consolidate all Facilities Protection Service personnel into a unified organization responsible to the MOI. As of December 2005, the Coalition no longer provided material or logistical support to the FPS.[3]

Special Police Commandos

Further information: Wolf Brigade (Iraq)

The Special Police Commandos were an elite counter-insurgency unit answering to the Ministry of the Interior.[4] In June 2004, the CPA transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government. Under the new Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, the CPA appointed a new interior minister, Falah al-Naqib.

After the poor performance of the police in battles against Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, Al-Naqib sought to provide the MOI with effective Iraqi constabulary forces.[5] Al-Naqib created “commando units” of former soldiers from elite units such as Saddam’s Republican Guard. These units, commanded by al-Naqib’s uncle, Adnan Thabit, a former army general, were personally loyal to the minister. The commandos were trained initially without U.S. involvement. They were under MOI control, and were outside the scope of the U.S. Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) assistance program. The U.S. military provided arms and logistical support to these units, who proved to be effective under Minister al-Naqib’s stewardship in fighting alongside U.S. forces against Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias.

The existence of the unit was officially announced in September 2004 and numbered about 5,000 officers. Its principal U.S. adviser (Counselor) was Colonel James Steele, who also commanded the U.S. Military Advisory Group in El Salvador from 1984 through 1986.[6]

The Special Police Commando Division, Public Order Division, and Mechanized Police Brigade were merged in 2006 to form the National Police. The National Police has since expanded and been renamed the Federal Police.

Bomb-detector controversy

Main article: ADE 651

On April 1, 2009, the Ministry of Interior was awarded the annual Pigasus Award by James Randi "For the funding organization that wasted the most money on pseudo-science... Iraq's Interior Ministry had, by the end of 2009, spent US$85,000,000 on a dowsing rod called the ADE 651. (Each individual unit cost up to $60,000.) Despite an international uproar and continual car bomb detonations in Iraq, the things are still being used, and the Ministry is still defending its decision to buy them [as of 2009]."[7]

In 2010, the British businessman who exported the device was arrested by the British police for fraud.[8]

As of September 2014, the ADE 651 is still in use at Iraqi checkpoints, with the Iraqi Police defending their use: "Don’t listen to what people say about them or what reports media have on them. We would know best because we are the ones that are using them."[9] Investigations by the BBC, U.S. Naval EOD Technology Division and other organizations have reported that these and similar devices are fraudulent and little more than "glorified dowsing rods" with no ability to perform claimed functions.[10][11]

The Ministry suffers of a massive scale of corruption among its staff. A New York Times story detailed that in 2009.[12]

List of Interior Ministers

Interior Ministers 2003 - present

Name Portrait Term of office Political party Prime Minister
Nuri Badran September 2003 April 2004 Iraqi National Accord Rotating
Samir Sumaidaie April 2004 June 2004 Independent
Falah Hassan al-Naqib June 2004 April 2005 Iraqi National Accord Ayad Allawi
Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi April 2005 20 May 2006 UIA/ISCI Ibrahim al-Jaafari
Nouri al-Maliki 20 May 2006 8 June 2006 State of Law Coalition Nouri al-Maliki
Jawad al-Bulani 8 June 2006 21 December 2010 Iraqi Constitutional Party
Nouri al-Maliki 21 December 2010 8 September 2014 State of Law Coalition
Mohammed Al-Ghabban 18 October 2014 8 July 2016 State of Law Coalition Haider al-Abadi

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Rathmell, Andrew. Developing Iraq's security sector: the coalition provisional authority's experience. Rand Corporation. pp. 42–45. ISBN 0-8330-3823-0.
  2. 1 2 “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq,” March 2008 Report to Congress in accordance with the Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2008 (Section 9010, Public Law 109-289).
  3. 1 2 3 "Measuring Security and Stability in Iraq, November 2006" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  4. Iraq 'death squad caught in act', - Q&A on Iraq's militias, - Max Fuller, For Iraq, "The Salvador Option" Becomes Reality and - Guy Calaf, Iraqi Special Police Commandos
  5. Robert Perito, Special Report No. 223, United States Institute of Peace, May 2009
  6. O'Kane, Maggie; Mahmood, Mona; Madlena, Chavala; Smith, Teresa (2013-03-06). "Revealed: Pentagon's link to Iraqi torture centres | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-03-06.
  7. "The 2009 Pigasus Awards". 2010-04-01. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
  9. "Baghdad Dispatch: Checkpoint (In)Security". PBS. 2014-08-05. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
  10. Hawley, Caroline (2010-06-08). "Police raids expand bomb detector probe". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-06-09.
  11. "Test Report: The Detection Capability of the Sniffex Handheld Explosives Detector". 2010-01-25. Retrieved 2011-12-17.
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