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New Iraqi Defense Minister, Intelligence Chief Announced - 2004-04-04

The top U.S. official in Baghdad has announced the appointment of a new Iraqi defense minister and chief of intelligence.

Coalition administrator Paul Bremer told a news conference the new Defense Ministry and intelligence service will play an important role in Iraq's security.

"These organizations will give Iraqis the means to defend their country against terrorists and insurgents," said Mr. Bremer.

The current interim trade minister, Ali Allawi, a U.S. and British-educated expert on Middle East affairs and longtime opponent of Saddam Hussein's Baath party, will become the new defense chief.

The new leader of the Iraqi National Intelligence Service is Mohammed al-Shehwani. He is a former general of mixed Kurdish and Turkmen descent who was forced into exile by Saddam Hussein and who aided coalition forces in the recent war to oust him.

Mr. Bremer said the intelligence service will not have the power to arrest people or get involved in political matters. He also said the two offices will remain under civilian control.

"Iraq has too much sad experience in unbridled power," he said.

The U.S.-led coalition disbanded the former Iraqi army and closed down the Defense Department last year, shortly after the invasion of Iraq began.

The new Defense Ministry will open later this month and will oversee air and coastal defense forces. The new Iraqi army is currently being trained in Iraq and Jordan and is expected to have about 35,000 members, about one-tenth of the size of the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein.