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The Bush administration is ready to proceed with regime change in Iraq by installing an embryonic "proxy" government as early as Tuesday, April 8, elements of the new interim government will be established in the southern port of Umm Qasr.
It will be installed by former U.S. army Lieutenant General Jay Garner, Head of the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.
The U.S. "viceroy" of the southern Iraq will be retired General Buck Walters; one of three governors slated to minister the new Iraqi provinces. The two others are General Bruce Moore in the largely Kurdish north and former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine based in Baghdad, governing the central region.
"What we are going to start trying to do, even before the fighting is over in Iraq, is to move to the areas in Iraq that are relatively peaceful, places like Umm Qasr, and to start moving [the office of reconstruction] into Iraq," the officials said.
"It is a fair assessment to say that this is the first step to set up a civil administration in Iraq," they claimed.
Several hundred Americans — retired military officers, diplomats, and aid experts — meet every day under the leadership of General Garner to shape the new government. They are joined by a few Iraqi exiles handpicked by the Bush administration, and by a small number of British officials, the New York Times reported Sunday.
Top U.S. officials, including President George Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, are on board that the United Nations should not play any role in post-Saddam Iraq.
"They see no use for a U.N. role, describing the international body as 'irrelevant'," U.S. officials told The Observer. By brushing the U.N. aside at such an early stage, the move also places British Prime Minister Tony Blair - whose own preference is for a U.N. role - in a difficult situation ahead of his meeting with Bush this week in Belfast.
America's readiness to establish the first stages of an administration to run post-war Iraq comes at lightning speed and constitutes a rebuff to European ambitions to stall the process until some kind of role for the United Nations is agreed.
France reiterated that the U.N. should be "at the heart of the reconstruction and administration of Iraq." French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin emphasized a "very broad consensus" among E.U. and NATO members on giving the U.N. a central role in post-war Iraq.
Under the fourth Geneva Convention, which deals with the question of an occupation, an occupying power must protect the interests of the civilians under its control. The occupying power does not have the right to make radical changes in existing institutions in ways that could be deemed to harm the people. [The Observer Apr. 6/03]
Cowboys and Civilians
A British officer was alarmed when the American marines who were escorting him through the port of Umm Qasr let loose a volley of rifle fire at a house on the outskirts of town. A US special forces officer said, "How do we know who the enemy is?" [PINA April 3/03]
Firefights in Umm Qasr
Based on intercepted US and Iraqi military radio communications, GRU (Russian Military Intelligence) reported on April 4 that after coalition troops conducted a massive daylight operation in the town to find the resistance members, "coalition troops deployed in Umm-Qasr come under regular automatic weapons fire during the night hours." http://www.khilafah.com/home
Umm Qasr aid effort 'a shambles' Umm Qasr town is not under control. It's like the Wild West. And even the most major humanitarian concern, water, is not being adequately administered. I went into the two rooms occupied by a family of 14, they were drinking from an oil drum half full of stagnant, dirty water. It was water I certainly would not have drunk. The hospital has been without water for three days. Inside people were very angry with me because I was a westerner. They felt angry, frustrated and let down by the coalition.
Many had come to Umm Qasr from Basra because they had been told in American radio broadcasts that they would be looked after. They now say the coalition lied to them.
Adu Sulsam had brought his four-year-old daughter, Fatima, to the hospital and pleaded with me to help. The little girl was very malnourished, skeletal, and in my experience as an aid worker I would say she had less than a week to live.
One young man angrily said to me: "You support us when the TV cameras and newspapers are here, to show the world you like us. When they have gone you change. You have changed Saddam for another kind of imperialism."
If the coalition has trouble looking after such a small town, then what are they going to do about the city of Basra or, my God, Baghdad? [BBC Apr 4/20]
Iraq Opposition Party Spurns US Occupation
Carried on Kurdish TV last week, Iraq's democratic opposition leader promised excited viewers: "On the eve of the liberation of Iraq, the leadership committee will announce an independent, transitional coalition government to run the affairs of the country and protect the dignity of its people, and its independence, national sovereignty, and unity."
Speaking from his office in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, Hoshyar Zubari said simply: "Liberation means Iraqis are at the forefront; conquest means the invaders are in charge." [Reuters Mar. 27/ 03]
Copyright W. Thomas 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .