Baghdad: Iraq`s Army on Thursday marked the 90th
anniversary of its 1921 founding with a huge military parade
that included tanks and artillery weapons in Baghdad`s heavily
fortified Green Zone.
Commander-in-chief Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki,
standing on a small wooden platform at the foot of the
imposing Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, took the salute as
hundreds of soldiers marched past in the Armed Forces Day
Also on show were 10 Abrams tanks Iraq has bought from
the United States, whose forces are to withdraw from the
country this year. A total of 140 such tanks to be delivered
by the end of 2011.
About 20 helicopters and 10 training aircraft flew over
the parade, but there were no fighters, as most of those were
destroyed in the 2003 US-led invasion.
"We in the national unity government will not let the
army be politicised, and it will be for all, not for a
specific faction," Maliki said in a speech after placing a
wreath on the tomb.
"Under the dictatorship it became the authority`s
politicised army. It was the enemy army against neighbouring
countries, and the people," he said, referring to the regime
of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.