Thursday, May 13, 2004

A puppet government if ever there was one. 

In today’s Wall Street Journal a front page article authored by Yochi Dreazen and Christopher Cooper describes the nature of the Iraqi regime that will be in place once July 1 arrives and sovereignty is supposedly turned over to the Iraqi’s. The article is reveals what the true nature of this “sovereign Iraqi” government will be. What follows are extensive excerpts:

“Haider al-Abadi runs Iraq’s Ministry of Communications, but he no longer calls the shots there.

Instead, the authority to license Iraq’s television stations, sanction newspapers and regulate cell phone companies was recently transferred to a commission whose members were selected by Washington. The commissioners’ five year terms stretch far beyond the planned 18-month tenure of the interim Iraqi government that will assume sovereignty on June 30.

The transfer surprised Mr. Abadi, a British trained engineer who spent nearly two decades in exile before returning to Iraq last year. He found out the commission had been formally signed into law only when a reporter asked him for comment about it. “No one from the U.S. even found the time to call and tell me themselves”, he says.

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 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…

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…

Currently, the coalition Provisional Authority, which answers to the Pentagon, has total control of the governance of Iraq. It can issue decrees on virtually any topic, which then immediately become law. It will formally cease to exist on June 30. The Governing Council exits largely as an advisory body. Its members can pass laws, but the legislation must be approved by Mr. Bremer. The council has no control over the U.S. military, and in practice has little influence on civil matters.

It’s unclear what powers the interim government … will have. In Theory, it will have the ability to enforce and interpret laws on its own, though it will as of now lack the ability to write new ones or make large changes to them.

One thing is clear: The government’s actions are likely to be heavily influenced by dozens of U.S. and Iraqi appointees at virtually all levels.

In March, for instance, Mr. Bremer issued a lengthy edict consolidating control of all Iraqi troops and security forces under the Ministry of Defense and its head. Ali Allawi. But buried in the document is a one-paragraph “emergency” decree ceding “operational control” of all Iraqi forces to senior U.S. military commanders in Iraq. Iraqis will be able to organize the army, make officer appointments, set up new-officer and special forces courses and policies to govern the forces. But they can’t actually order their forces into, or out of combat – that power will rest solely with U.S. commanders…. With American commanders retaining the power to order the forces into combat, Mr. Allawi or his successor will be left with only “administrative control” of the forces.

Meanwhile, 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.”

Well there you have it. The “sovereign Iraqi” government will have no ability to promulgate laws, remove U.S. appointed administrators, or even control its own military. Everything of importance will be run by U.S. “advisors” or stooges appointed by the U.S. which the Iraqi government will have no power to remove. I think even East Germany had more autonomy than this!!


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