May 13, 2004
The Wall Street Journal

Behind the Scenes, U.S. Tightens Grip On Iraq's Future

Hand-picked proxies, advisers will be given key roles in interim government

by Yochi J. Dreasen and Christopher Cooper

As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make.

In a series of edicts issued earlier this spring, Mr. Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority created new commissions that effectively take away virtually all of the powers once held by several ministries. The CPA also established an important new security-adviser position, which will be in charge of training and organizing Iraq's new army and paramilitary forces, and put in place a pair of watchdog institutions that will serve as checks on individual ministries and allow for continued U.S. oversight. Meanwhile, the CPA reiterated that coalition advisers will remain in virtually all remaining ministries after the handover.

In many cases, these U.S. and Iraqi proxies will serve multiyear terms and have significant authority to run criminal investigations, award contracts, direct troops and subpoena citizens. The new Iraqi government will have little control over its armed forces, lack the ability to make or change laws and be unable to make major decisions within specific ministries without tacit U.S. approval, say U.S. officials and others familiar with the plan.

. . . the media and telecom commission Mr. Bremer created will be able to collect media licensing fees, regulate television and telephone companies, shut down news agencies, extract written apologies from newspapers and seize publishing and broadcast equipment. . . .


Susan Sachs, "Where Brave Constitutions Are Often Window Dressing," New York Times, March 9, 2004

VIDEO: "Robert Fisk: Iraq power handover 'a fraud'," ABC (Australia), April 20, 2004

[British and American troops are to be granted immunity from prosecution in Iraq after the crucial 30 June handover, undermining claims that the new Iraqi government will have 'full sovereignty' over the state.--Kamal Ahmed, "Iraqis lose right to sue troops over war crimes: Military win immunity pledge in deal on UN vote," The Observer, May 23, 2004]

[But the resolution makes clear that the 150,000 American and British troops would retain control of security and offered no timetable for their withdrawal.

. . . "There is no such thing as 'sovereignty-lite'," Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said. "Being sovereign is like being pregnant, you either are or you aren't. If the new Iraqi government doesn't have ultimate responsibility for the security of the Iraqi people, it is not truly sovereign."--Richard Beeston, "Britain and US unveil plan to end Iraq occupation," The Times, May 25, 2004]

["The whole thing is a sham," says Joan Russow of the Canada-based Global Compliance Research Project. "It would appear that the Security Council will cave in to U.S. and U.K. pressure to essentially absolve the two countries for their preemptive/preventive aggression against Iraq: an undeniable violation of the rule of international law."

. . . identifies Iraqi resistance to military occupation as terrorism,"--Thalif Deen, "US Offers Iraq 'Sovereignty Lite'," Inter Press Service, May 25, 2004]

[. . . US officials were quoted as saying that Hussain Shahristani had emerged as the leading candidate.--Anne Penketh and Justin Huggler, "UN fury over Bush attempts to install PM," Independent, May 27, 2004]

[After turning to the United Nations to shore up its failing effort to fashion a new government in Baghdad, the United States ended up Friday with a choice for prime minister certain to be seen more as an American candidate than one of the United Nations or the Iraqis themselves.--Warren Hoge and Steven R. Weisman, "Surprising Choice for Premier of Iraq Reflects U.S. Influence," New York Times, May 29, 2004]

[The choice of Iyad Allawi, closely linked to the CIA and formerly to MI6, as the Prime Minister of Iraq from 30 June will make it difficult for the US and Britain to persuade the rest of the world that he is capable of leading an independent government.--Patrick Cockburn, "Exiled Allawi was responsible for 45-minute WMD claim," Independent, May 29, 2004]

[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--Justin Huggler, "Bremer threatens to veto Iraqis' choice of president," Independent, June 1, 2004]

["It's a charade," said a diplomat at the United Nations--Steven R. Weisman, "Iraq's New Government Faces Bargaining Over Its Power," New York Times, June 2, 2004]

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