A U.S. military governor for Iraq?
Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2002
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
YellowTimes - News leaks from Washington, published in the New York Times on 11 October 2002, indicate that the U.S. military is preparing for a lengthy occupation of Iraq, with a U.S. military commander running the country.
New York Times writers David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt claim "Iraq would be governed by an American military commander -- perhaps Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of United States forces in the Persian Gulf, or one of his subordinates -- who would assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur served in Japan after its surrender in 1945."
The plan, if executed, would ensure that:
1. The Iraqi Army would be significantly downsized;
2. The U.S. would oversee Iraq's oil fields and oil and gas production;
3. The U.N. Oil-for-Food program would be expanded to pay for the occupation of Iraq; and,
4. A war crimes court would be established to prosecute members of the Baath Party and senior commanders who are followers of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
The plan for a U.S. military commander of Iraq is being received with dismay by U.S. allies, including the Iraqi opposition, who have in recent months supported all U.S. efforts to dislodge Saddam. The new plan, however, would effectively bar them from any political influence in post-war Iraq. Political analysts have admitted that Iraqi opposition groups are apparently feeling 'shafted.'
Hamid al-Bayati, a representative of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a leading Shiite-led opposition group, recently spoke with the Associated Press. "They can't do that," he observed. "The Iraqi people will not accept it and nobody else in the region will."
A disgruntled Sharif Ali, alleged distant relative of Iraq's last king, seemed perplexed when the BBC asked him what he thought of the new occupation plan. He hesitated, seeming surprised by the question and said: "We would like to see provisional Iraqi government in place and not a military occupation."
Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress opposition party in exile, also appeared on MSNBC's "Countdown: Iraq" show. Visibly irritated, he tried to change the focus of the discussion from the potential for a U.S. military occupation of Iraq to the need for a provisional government without U.S. military governance. He stated that it would take Iraq about 18 months to two years to draw up a constitution, after which an election based on that constitution would be held.
An Arab League source called the U.S. occupation plan "simplistic" and "entirely laughable." Other political and military analysts in North America also believe the U.S. occupation plan is as foolhardy as it is impractical. Henry Kissinger stated last week that he is "viscerally opposed to a prolonged occupation of a Muslim country at the heart of the Muslim world by Western nations who proclaim the right to re-educate that country."
The new plan does nothing to allay Arab, Russian, and European fears that this war has nothing to do with freeing the Iraqi people. It seems evident that it has everything to do with securing Iraq's easily-exploited high-grade oil and gas reserves for the United States.
[Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Canadian-based journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry.]
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