Sunday, November 09, 2003

IRAQ LOYA JIRGA: Progress in Iraq has no limits. Apparently our colonial puppets the Iraqi Governing Council isn't functioning as we would like. And I don't blame them. What? You didn't think people like Ahmed Chalabi would be lining their pockets? Well, I don't blame you for being naive either.

The United States is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future, especially selecting a committee to write a new constitution, the officials added. "We're unhappy with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we need to get moving," said a well-placed U.S. official who spoke on the condition anonymity. "They just don't make decisions when they need to."

Ambassador Robert Blackwill, the new National Security Council official overseeing Iraq's political transition, begins an unannounced trip this weekend to Iraq to meet with Iraqi politicians to drive home that point. He is also discussing U.S. options with L. Paul Bremer, civilian administrator of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, U.S. officials said.
And you know that things are really going bad when they consider something the French proposed...or even worse: something we're doing in Afghanistan!
The United States is even considering a French proposal, earlier rejected, to create an interim Iraqi leadership that would emulate the Afghan model, according to U.S. and French officials. During the debate before the new United Nations resolution on postwar Iraq was passed Oct. 17, France and other Security Council members had proposed holding a national conference -- like the Afghan loya jirga -- to select a provisional government that would have the rights of sovereignty.

Among several options, the administration is also considering changing the order of the transition if it looks as though it could drag on much longer than the United States had planned. The United States has long insisted that a new constitution was the essential first step and elections the final phase in handing over power.

But now U.S. officials are exploring the possibility, again backed by other Security Council members, of creating a provisional government with effective sovereignty to govern until a new constitution is written and elections held. This is again similar to Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai has governed while a new national charter is written. Elections are due there next June, two years after the fall of the Taliban.
I'm completely unfamiliar with the tribal culture and system in Iraq, so I'm unable to judge if an Iraqi Loya Jirga is an option. (Cue to Juan Cole!)

UPDATE: This Post article on what's happening on the road between Baghdad and Tehran has the following sub-heading: "Road From Baghdad Is Paved With Upheaval and Uncertainty." They should be happy: the road between Kabul and Kandahar is so heavily damaged that we needed the Saudis in helping us paving it! And by the way, the road is getting only one layer instead of the usual three. It has to be finished by the end of the year so President Bush can gloat over the accomplishments he's made in Afghanistan: a finished but unusable highway.


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