The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral
control of a post-Saddam Hussain Iraq, with an interim administration headed by
a yet-to-be named American civilian who will direct the reconstruction of the
country and the creation of a "representative" Iraqi government,
according to a now-finalised outline desc-ribed by US officials and other
unilateral control of Iraq
Washington |By Karen DeYoung and
Peter Slevin | 22-02-2003
The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a
post-Saddam Hussain Iraq, with an interim administration headed by a yet-to-be
named American civilian who will direct the reconstruction of the country and
the creation of a "representative" Iraqi government, according to a
now-finalised outline described by U.S. officials and other sources.
General Tommy Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command, is to maintain
military control as long as U.S. troops are there. Once security has been
established and weapons of mass destruction have been located and disabled, a
U.S. administrator will run the civilian government and direct reconstruction.
In the early days of military action, U.S. forces following behind those in
combat will distribute food and other relief items and begin needed
reconstruction. The goal, officials said, is to make sure the Iraqi people
"immediately" consider themselves better off than the day before war,
and attribute their improved circumstances directly to the United States.
The initial humanitarian effort, as previously announced, is to be directed by
retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner. But once he got to Baghdad, sources said,
Garner would quickly be replaced as the supreme civil authority by an American
"of stature," such as a former U.S. state governor or ambassador,
Officials said other governments were currently being recruited to participate
in relief and reconstruction tasks under U.S. supervision when Franks and
officials in Washington decide the time is right.
Although initial food supplies are to be provided by the United States,
negotiations are underway with the United Nations World Food Programme to
administer the nationwide distribution network.
Opposition leaders were informed this week that the United States will not
recognise an Iraqi provisional government currently being discussed by some
expatriate groups. Some 20 to 25 Iraqis will assist American authorities in a
U.S.-appointed "consultative council," with no governing
In a decision finalised last week, Iraqi government officials will be subjected
to "de-Baathification," a reference to Saddam's ruling Baath Party,
under a programme that borrows from the "de-Nazification" programme
established in Germany after World War II.
Criteria by which officials would be designated as too tainted to keep their
jobs are still being worked on, although they are likely to be based more on
complicity with the human rights and weapons abuses of the Saddam government
than corruption, officials said.
A large number of current officials would be retained. Although some of the
broad strokes had been previously revealed, its shaping has taken on increasing
urgency as the possibility of war grows nearer.
Officials cautioned that developments in Iraq could lead them to revise the plan
on the run. Yet to be decided is "at what point and for what purpose"
a multinational administration, perhaps run by the United Nations, would be
considered to replace the U.S. civil authority.
"We have a load of plans that could be carried out by an international
group, a coalition group, or by us and a few others," one senior U.S.
The president, the official said, doesn't want to close options until the
participants in a military action are known and the actual post-war situation in
Iraq becomes clear.
The administration has been under strong pressure to demonstrate that it has a
detailed programme to deal with what is expected to be a chaotic and dangerous
situation after Saddam is removed. The White House plans to brief Congress and
reporters on more details of the plan next week.
No definitive price tag or time limit has been put on the plan, and officials
stressed that much remains unknown about the length of the conflict, the extent
of the destruction, and "how deep" the corruption of the Iraqi
The administration has declined to estimate how long U.S. forces would remain in
Iraq. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman told Congress last week that it
might be two years before Iraqis regained administrative control of their
But "they're terrified of being caught in a time frame," said Maj.
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, one of a number of retired senior military and civilian
experts who have been briefed by the Pentagon on the plan.
"My own view is that it will take five years, with substantial military
power, to establish and exploit the peace" in Iraq.
The administration also is continuing discussions about Saddam's possible exile,
along with several dozen of his family members and top officials.
Sources said, however, that even if Saddam and a small group of others were to
leave, uncertainties about who would remain in charge, the need to destroy
weapons of mass destruction, and concerns about establishing long-term stability
would likely lead to the insertion of U.S. troops there in any case.
The Iraqi troops will be vetted by U.S. forces under Franks' command, and those
who are cleared, beginning with those who "stood down or switched
sides" during a U.S. assault, will receive U.S. training to serve in what
one official called a "post-stabilisation" force.
U.S. forces will secure any weapons of mass destruction that are found,
including biological and chemical weapons stores.
"At an appropriate time," an official said, the United Nations
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic
Energy Agency, who are now conducting UN-mandated weapons inspections in Iraq,
may be brought in to examine weaponry, scientists and documentation.
A commission will write a new constitution, although officials emphasised that
they do not expect to "democratise" Iraq along the lines of the U.S.
governing system. Instead, they speak of a "representative Iraqi
Officials said the decision to install U.S. military and civilian
administrations for an indeterminate time stems from lessons learnt in
Afghanistan, where power has been diffused among U.S. military forces fighting
an ongoing war against the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaida, a
several-thousand troop multinational security force that the United States does
not participate in, and the interim government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
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