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Organizing Iraq

Organizing a new Itaq will be an extremely diffiult task. The US administrators of occupied Iraq have decided to select a small group of Iraqis to serve on an interim advisory council rather than convene large a national conference to create a transitional authority, The Washington Post (6/2/03) reported It quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying that the council could be formed within about six weeks. The official, speaking in Baghdad, said the shift in plans from a conference to an appointed council was driven by "an enormous and complicated agenda" for the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraqi political groups, anxious for a greater say in running their country, had expected a national conference to create a US-supervised transitional authority, especially since one of the rationales given by the Bush administration for the invasion of Iraq was that the country deserved "democracy". Iraq's US governor, Paul Bremer, said late in May that the conference would likely be held in July, more than a month later than originally planned. The US occupation authority now plans instead to handpick 25 to 30 Iraqis to advise US officials on day-to-day governance issues. The council would be selected by the US and British governments, but would be chosen "through a process of consultation" with Iraqis. "We are asking the Iraqis with whom we are in contact for their suggestions for who should be involved in this process," the official said. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ryan Crocker briefed representatives of seven formerly exiled political groups about the planned council in Baghdad. Participants included the Iraqi National Congress, which is headed by Ahmed Chalabi, the Shiite-dominated Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and two Kurdish political parties. Representatives of some of the groups refused to comment publicly on Crocker's presentation, saying they planned to meet to formulate a joint response.

Ronald Hilton - 6/8/03