The Iraq Test

Posted by Admin

For anyone unsure about the administration's true goals in Iraq, the answer could be found shortly when the new interim Iraqi president is chosen. The Iraqi Governing Council members overwhelmingly prefer Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer. He's a 45-year-old civil engineer with a degree from Georgetown University. He fled Iraq in the nineties.

The interesting thing about al-Yawer is that while he's a Sunni muslim, he comes from a prominent tribe in the Middle East that includes Shiite families and, most importantly, he has support from the Sunnis, Kurds, and Shiites on the council. Sounds like a real uniter. Oh, I should mention that al-Yawer, who is the current head of the council, has been very critical of the occupation although he has denounced violence against the Coalition:

We blame the United States 100 per cent for the security in Iraq. 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.

We should resist (the occupation) with our thoughts, our positions and political work and that is the best way. Violence breeds violence.

Council members allege that the U.S. is pressuring them to support Adnan Pachachi, the U.S. favorite. Pachachi is 81 years old, an Iraqi exile since 1968, and unsurprisingly wants Coalition troops to stay until "the violence is quelled." That could be years.

The AP says CPA spokseperson Dan Senor denied the U.S. was trying to interfere, but ICG members told the AP that Council sources said that "the Americans warned that if the members went ahead and voted for al-Yawer, the United States might not recognize the choice." Brahimi is also said to support Pachachi.

Brahimi has had some difficulty with the council; while he had wanted non-politicians and opposed including the current council members in governing roles, he has backed down. At council members' insistence, they will hold several prominent positions in the interim cabinet. As prime minister, the council selected Ayad Allawi (long supported by the CIA), a current council member. The U.S. and Brahimi endorsed the choice, but it makes one question the need for a transitional government when current council members will occupy most of those positions.

The selection of al-Yawer seems pretty wise if the objective is to establish democracy. He's moderate, has prestige among Iraqis and, having not been an exile long, retains ties to many of them. He has also been critical enough of the administration that Iraqis may not consider him a U.S. puppet. If the U.S. truly desires a democratic Iraq, the administration should support the Iraqi Council's selection of a leader who appears capable of uniting the different factions in Iraq under one flag rather than one who will look out for U.S. oil interests. But if the war is really about the U.S. getting a military foothold in the Middle East and having a government that will welcome our oil companies, the administration will insist on Pachachi.