Monday, May 31, 2004

Not only has the United States secured its man as Interim Prime Minister of The New IraqTM. Now the US is bound and determined to bag the ceremonial position of Interim President as well.
Talks on naming an interim president for Iraq were deadlocked yesterday as a rift between US occupation officials and the Iraqi leadership they appointed threatens to undermine American plans to hand over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June.

The US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council wants to appoint its current leader, Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, who has spoken out against the failure of the occupation, but the US occupation governor, Paul Bremer, is insisting that they choose instead Adnan al-Pachachi, an 81-year-old former diplomat, who has said he believes American troops need to stay in Iraq until the security situation improves.

It emerged yesterday that Mr Bremer warned the council during talks on Sunday not to put the decision to the vote, saying that if it elected Sheikh Yawar, he would veto the decision. Further talks scheduled for yesterday were postponed at America's request until today, meaning that the deadline to name the interim government by the end of May was missed. . . .

America's reasons for preferring Mr Pachachi over Sheikh Yawar are obvious. Both are in fact popular choices with the Iraqi street - although the US attempts to arm-twist the Governing Council have dented Mr Pachachi's standing badly. Both are Sunnis, to balance the fact that Mr Allawi is a Shia, and both are members of the Governing Council.

But Sheikh Yawar, the head of one of the country's most powerful tribes, has recently criticised the US occupation. "We blame the United States 100 per cent for the security in Iraq," he said. "They occupied the country, disbanded the security agencies and for 10 months left Iraq's borders open for anyone to come in without a visa or even a passport." Mr Pachachi, by contrast, has said he believes that only the US forces can restore security.
It is stunning how both Paul Bremer and the Iraqi Governing Council have completely and utterly routed UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. Brahimi openly confessed that he was looking for technocrats who were neither from the exile community nor on the IGC to staff the new positions in the "sovereign" interim administration. Instead, Allawi, Pachachi and Yawar are all IGC members, and Allawi and Pachaci are from the exile community. So much for those plans! And still Bush expects the UN Security Council to rubber stamp his new resolution?

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