Friday, December 19, 2003

Concerns surface about Iraq timetable: "Under the accelerated timetable agreed to last month by Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority and Iraqi leaders, an interim Iraqi parliament is supposed to be in place by May 31. It is to select an interim government by June 30, formally ending the U.S. occupation... Bremer's plans to return power back to Iraqis have run into a major political roadblock. The leading religious figure among Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al Sistani, has insisted on direct elections to choose members of the interim parliament. Bremer and many other U.S. officials believe that Iraq isn't ready for elections because there isn't time to develop accurate voter rolls and because of the possibility of fraud or violence.

"Bremer and the advisory Iraqi Governing Council are exploring compromises, such as elections in some parts of Baghdad and other cities. But some officials fear that, with the deadline looming, Sistani and others will be able to hold out and force the United States to cave. U.S. officials, including some in the CPA, privately concede that Bremer and his aides have made three crucial errors, including failing to reach out earlier to Sistani. The other errors are the disbanding last summer of the entire Iraqi army and failing thus far to bring the Sunnis into the political process."

A US corporate media article like this contains interesting information but needs to be interpreted. By 'ending the occupation' they mean setting up a US client state, with a US appointed 'interim government.' The US Administration is also formally admitting its mistakes, namely the sacking of the army, alienation of the Sunnis, and consequent inability to deal with the demand for democracy from the Shias, which should have been predicted. In other words the recipe for US control of Iraq is the same as ever, a Sunni-dominated junta which represses the shia majority in the interests of the hegemonic power. But the neo-conservatives dropped the ball temporarily on this concept, probably due to ideological reasons (or mere fantasies) and this has led to serious problems for the Iraq project.

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