Iraq looks to put squeeze on pudgy police



Agence France Presse

Published — Saturday 5 January 2013

Last update 5 January 2013 1:10 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Ihsan Ghaidan, a policeman in one of Iraq’s most volatile provinces, admits he stands little chance of promotion and notes his performance is increasingly under the microscope, for one simple reason.
He is overweight, and Iraq’s security leaders are not happy.
In fact, he is not just overweight — standing 177 cm (five feet nine inches) and weighing 116 kilograms (256 pounds), Ghaidan is obese, according to the US Department of Health’s online body mass index calculator.
And Ghaidan is among those whom Iraq’s security forces want to put the squeeze on. By one measure, the vast majority of soldiers and policemen in his province of Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, are overweight.
“My body is not fit, and that is definitely affecting my movement while on duty,” he told AFP.
“My movement is usually slow, and especially during raids, to the extent that I sometimes have to stay and guard cars, just in case there is a chase, which I cannot do.” Iraq’s laws regulating the military and police require that all members meet certain health and fitness requirements, and officials are increasingly demanding that the rules be strictly applied.
According to Dolir Hassan, a provincial councillor in Diyala, which still suffers near-daily violence, between 70 and 80 percent of the police and army in the province are obese. “Most sufferers of this disease are officers, because of the lack of oversight,” he complained. Weight problems are common among Iraqi policemen, largely as a result of lax internal health and fitness standards, little daily exercise, and unhealthy diets heavy on meat and light on greens.
Hassan said in previous decades an overweight officer risked being brought before a supervisory committee that had the power to fire the offending member of the security forces.
Now, however, such an apparatus has fallen out of use, but top officials are pushing for tough rules to be applied to the letter.
“We ordered, three months ago, to return to old promotion regulations, which require (police) to not be obese, and to be at a normal weight,” Deputy Interior Minister Adnan Assadi told AFP.
He said that this represented the best hope of reducing weight en masse among the security forces — those who do not comply will not be promoted.
However, in a country where corruption in the security forces remains a key problem, whether the rules will be strictly applied remains an open question.
Ex-army officer Abduljabbar Abdulrahman recalled that warnings would be issued to anyone in the police and the army whose weight was ballooning, and officers up for promotion would often be forced to exercise to meet minimum fitness requirements.
At the time, before the 2003 US-led invasion, the Iraqi army still struggled with overweight soldiers, though those were primarily conscripts who were not forced to maintain a healthy weight, Abdulrahman noted.


He and others made reference to a report by Al-Arabiya satellite television, a copy of which was uploaded onto the video-sharing website YouTube in August 2011, showing Saddam-era leaders exercising on camera under the supervision of elite Republican Guard officers.



The video, which had around 150,000 views at the time of publication, has highlighted key differences in health and fitness between Saddam-era security forces and their current incarnations.
Those current officers, and their weight problems, are not just an issue in Diyala province, either.
Captain Muqdad Al-Mussawi, spokesman for police forces in Najaf province, south of Baghdad, said that the interior ministry’s new rules had been sent to all precincts, while a senior cop in the northern province of Kirkuk said they wanted to force chronically overweight officers to retire.
“We have proven that being fat represents a big obstacle to building security institutions, and fighting terrorism and organized crime,” said the top officer, who declined to be identified.
He said the province had instituted guidelines whereby a policeman standing 180 centimeters tall had to weigh between 70 and 75 kilograms.
“Security officers must be very fit,” he said.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Kingdom and New Zealand have signed an air services agreement to set a comprehensive regulatory framework for air transport, operating on a safe and organized basis.The deal was signed at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) he...
RIYADH: Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa has called on teachers, educators and other officials of his ministry to work hard for the common goal of producing quality graduates. “I urge you to do your level best in transmitting knowledge to the student...
AL-AHSA: Uncoordinated production resources, lack of risk planning, evaluation, non-study of similar projects and poor planning are among the reasons for failure of projects, an expert has said.“Total quality management (TQM) is an integrated scienti...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Criminal Court has issued its verdict against two Saudis for terrorism-related offenses and for supporting extremist groups, a local daily has reported.The court issued a prison sentence of ten and a half years to the first de...
RIYADH: The second phase of the operation on a Polish child for a genetic heart disease was successfully performed at the King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC) of the National Guard Health Affairs on Wednesday. On a directive from Custodian of the Two H...
JEDDAH: A new breast cancer treatment improves survival rates by an average 20 percent, with life expectancy lengthened by 29.9 months.This is according to Ahmed Al-Wabari, breast oncology consultant at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, who ou...
RIYADH: The projects of Saudi students at the Technical Trainers College (TTC) is being showcased at the German pavilion in the 30th Janadriyah Festival. With the slogan “Welcome to Your Future”, the TTC is participating in the festival with Germany...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor has urged firms to immediately start implementing the 10th phase of the Wage Protection System before it becomes mandatory on March 31.Mohammed Al-Faleh, assistant undersecretary for inspection and development of the wor...
RIYADH: As many as 104 antique items that have come from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, have gone on display at the National Museum here. The exhibition coincides the Janadriyah festival for heritage and culture.According to local media, the...
RIYADH: A visiting Kuwaiti delegation has praised Saudi Arabia for collecting and preserving various heritage items at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh.The delegation, led by Kuwait’s Education Minister Bader Al-Essa, was given a tour...
RIYADH: Road security forces in Madinah apprehended two Asian expats who were caught in possession of a huge amount of money totaling SR1.6 million and talismans.“The two Asians were riding in a Japanese-made car when they were stopped at the Yanbu-...
RIYADH: Good news for the 25,000 British expatriates in the Kingdom, who will get their franchise to participate in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.In an announcement on Thursday, the British Embassy here said that the Uni...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Municipality, with cooperation of the Check Safety First British company, launched an award of excellence for services in restaurants under the name E-Cristal to support the establishment of best services in restaurants and eatery shop...
JEDDAH: Well-known Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan married Safa Baig, an Indian woman, who was born in Jeddah and raised here by her Hyderabadi parents.The marriage was solemnized at a simple ceremony at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Wednesday. Only a...
RIYADH: The Ministries of Interior and Islamic Affairs are considering appointing security guards at all the mosques in the Kingdom where Friday prayers are held.The move comes as a precautionary and regulatory measure to protect the mosques from at...

Stay Connected

Facebook