Friday, July 30, 2004

Early 'handover' uncovers White House crisis

CNN - 7/25/2004 10:00:00 AM GMT

The U.S. occupation forces handed over power to the Iraq Interim government, 2 days earlier than it was scheduled. What does this move reveal? And what really lies behind the U.S. haste in handing over power to the Iraqis, although the occupation hasn’t ended yet.

Bush and Blair persistently refused to allow elections to be held before handing over the power to the Iraqis, hoping that their new friend, the interim government, will be able to allow them to win the elections on their side when they are finally held.

Last April, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made crystal clear the limits that U.S. occupation would put on this handy picked new 'government'.

Powell said that he hopes that the Iraqis "will understand that in order for this government to get up and running - to be effective - some of its sovereignty will have to be given back, if I can put it that way, or limited by them. ...It's sovereignty but [some] of that sovereignty they are going to allow us to exercise on their behalf and with their permission."

However despite U.S. control over this new "government", they and their allies, were losing control over Iraq as anti-occupation fighters, and were also loosing their credibility worldwide. The amount of causalities among Iraqi and the Abu Ghraib scandal was enough to shatter the U.S. and its allies’ image all over the world.

General Tommy Franks, the Commander of U.S. Central Command at the time of the invasion, expressed how U.S. doesn’t pay the least respect to Iraqi casualties when he stated, "we don't do body counts".

The released photos of abusing Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib notorious prison was an evidence to the amount of violations done to Iraqis by the U.S. occupation forces and its allies. Also with the Red Cross reporting that the occupation officers said that between 70%-90% of those prisoners were "arrested by mistake".

The occupation repressive methods have stirred the world’s outrage and bitterness towards the occupiers.

Then comes 'handing over power to the Iraqi people'. If this was a true handover, then Iraqis would have been asking for immediate end of the occupation. There can be no doubt that almost all of the Iraqis don’t are anti-occupation, even among Kurds who were to some extent supportive to the U.S.-led invasion.

The recent months before the handover of power witnessed the shattering of the U.S. image and failure of its policy. The U.S. military found itself forced into a series of tactical retreats, fearing that their operations would provoke a generalized national uprising.

The 'collective punishment' strategy that the U.S. adopted in the Iraqi city Fallujah failed and the U.S. was forced to effectively reconstitute part of the old Iraqi army to win control over the area.

Moreover, U.S. military's delay in supporting the new 'Iraqi army' with weaponry came as a sign of their lack of confidence in these forces, many of whom have only joined for financial reasons.

Behind these policy reversals we tend to see both the rising opposition to the occupying forces' presence in Iraq and Bush's mounting fear that the unraveling of his Iraq adventure will jeopardize the November U.S. Presidential elections, which of course he can’t afford losing.

As a matter of fact the U.S. made 'interim government' has been designed to be a disguise behind which the U.S. will still run the country. But the Wall Street Journal uncovered how the CPA has formed a series of 'commissions' and agencies that have effectively taken over the power previously held in Iraqi ministries, thus leaving the new 'government' with very little power left. Which stirred the U.S. fears.

While the CPA itself was to end its existence by the end of June, the new U.S. Embassy, the largest in the world, based in one of Saddam's palaces, with around 1,600 staff, was prepared to take over its role!

The U.S. had great hopes that the new 'interim government' will serve as a buffer that will redirect opposition to its colonial grip. As the opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq continued to grow, there was no unifying focus for the resistance. This meant that it was a combination of ethnic, religious and tribal groupings which at first gave the occupiers the opportunity to maneuver between the different groups.

Increasingly the occupiers are relying on deals with different groups, in effect trying to play off one grouping against another. An example is in the northern Kurdish area where for some time the Kurdish leaders have been the most consistent supporters of the occupation. These leaders have received some rewards for this, for example the promise that the two main Kurdish militias will form part of the internal security forces of the Kurdistan regional government.

But the U.S. refused the Kurdish demands for control over the northern Iraqi oilfield around Kirkuk. The U.S. didn’t want to alienate the Turkish government which opposes Kurdish independence and at the same time wanted to strike a deal with the leaders of the Iraqi Shia majority. So the U.S. made a gesture towards Sistani by ensuring that the latest UN resolution on Iraq did not mention the Transitional Administration Law that granted Kurds some rights, on paper, to a federal Iraq.

The combination of the lack of a national uprise against occupation and the occupying powers' increasing reliance on local deals was creating a trend towards break-up of Iraq under local forces and fighters. This in turn brought the fear of provoking further ethnic, tribal, and religious tensions as rival elites struggle for power and economic resources.

This formal handover of power to a form of Iraqi government was the only way out to save the shattered U.S. image all over the world and consequently save Bush his chair in November’s presidential elections. Also it was a proof and a sign of U.S. losing control in Iraq after causalities, lies, abuse and torture were uncovered to the whole world.



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