Tuesday, February 04, 2003

US chooses Saddam's successor
"The United States has chosen a successor to Saddam Hussein from Iraq's notoriously fractious opposition groups, according to a former Iraqi diplomat who lives in Sydney. Mohamed al-Jabiri, who has just returned from in talks with Washington, said the White House has given its "blessing" to the head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, to lead a transitional coalition government in Iraq once Saddam has been deposed. He said a new government would be in place three months after Saddam's removal and elections for a national parliament after one year. The aim is to have a new constitution that would adopt a federal structure to ease power-sharing among Iraq's different religious and ethnic groups."

There is a contradiction between a conquering power choosing a successor and the establishment of a democratic regime in the country. No doubt the contradiction will be resolved in the usual way, by having elections provided Washington's candidate wins. As Scott Burchill has pointed out, in the event of genuine democratic elections in Iraq, the most likely outcome would be a Shiite dominated government which would be aligned with Iran. It would also be a government, absent foreign interference, that would be inclined to use Iraq's oil wealth in the interests of Iraq. Both these outcomes would be intolerable to the United States and hence we can confidently predict they will not happen.

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