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Occupied Arab World

America’s plans for the post-war administration of occupied Iraq

Ahmad Musa

As a US invasion of Iraq looks ever more imminent, increasing details are emerging of Washington’s plans for the establishment of a reliable, pro-Western puppet-regime in Baghdad. A detailed article on the ‘secret’ plans was published in the Washington Post on January 17, apparently as a result of a deliberate leak designed to prepare public opinion for future developments.

The article described the leaked documents as "blueprints for Iraq’s future" which George Bush is yet to approve, characterising them as outlining "a broad and protracted American role in managing the reconstruction of the country". Reading between the political language, however, it is clear that Washington is preparing for a lengthy US military occupation of Iraq under cover of a civilian Iraqi government which, in reality, will have no more substance or legitimacy than the Karzai administration in Afghanistan.

"The administration’s plans, which are nearing completion, envision installing a civilian administration within months of a change of government, US officials said. But the officials said that even under the best of circumstances, US forces likely would remain at full strength in Iraq for months after a war ended, with a continued role for thousands of US troops there for years to come," the article went on.

The article then said: "Among key roles for US forces would be the preservation of Iraq’s borders against any sudden claims by neighbours and the defence of the country’s oil fields. Oil revenue is considered the primary source of funds for Iraq’s reconstruction, and the proceeds of the oil trade are seen as the glue most likely to hold the country’s communities together."

This effectively confirms what analysts of US policy have been saying from the outset: that oil is the US’s central concern in the country. This is the main reason that the unity of the country will be carefully maintained, despite any possible plans of Iraq’s Shi’a and Kurdish communities. The south of the country, where the Shi’a community make up over half of Iraq’s population, and the Kurdish area in the north, are site of many of the country’s largest oil-fields. US officials have reportedly promised Turkey that American troops will be stationed in the key northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk in the event of war, to put down any Kurdish uprising.

The plan envisages the appointment of an international civilian administrator, possibly through the aegis of the UN, to oversee the post-war administration of Iraq. This is a major change from previous US plans, which had suggested that Iraq’s government would be overseen by a senior American official, much as Afghanistan’s is. The change of plan may reflect the growing opposition to the war and scepticism about the US plans in the US and abroad.

An article in the New York Times on January 6 admitted that official and popular Arab reactions to plans for an American military administration were unfavourable: "Arabs wanted no American Caesar in Iraq, no symbol of a colonial governor." However the Bush administration, with or without UN assistance, attempts to dress up its plans, the charade is a thin one. While US officials self-righteously claim that the aim of the occupation will be to "democratise Iraq," the Iraqi people will have absolutely no say in the running of the country. Any popular involvement, even a purely nominal one, has been relegated to the distant future.

Washington intends to leave the repressive government apparatus, through which Saddam Hussein has exercised his autocratic rule, largely intact; it is likely to need it itself. The CIA has drawn up a list of top civilian and military officials who will be hunted down for prosecution. But, according to the New York Times, a relatively small number of key senior officials will be removed. Likewise, the only institutions to be eliminated will be those closely identified with Saddam, such as the so-called revolutionary courts and the special security organisation.

The Washington Post article also noted that the Iraqi exile groups which met in London in December have been sidelined because of the US’s disappointment at their fractious and self-interested performance there. "Iraqis relegated to advisory roles in the immediate postwar period would gradually be given a greater role, but they would not regain control of their country for a year or more, according to current US thinking," it stated.

However, the opposition groups continue to pin their ambitions on a US military overthrow of Saddam. Early last month Iraqi exiles began reporting to military bases in the US and Europe for screening. Those chosen will be flown to Hungary, where they will receive rudimentary training to enable them to act as auxiliaries to US troops inside Iraq.

Some opposition groups have ruled out any involvement. Hamid Bayati, London-based spokesman for the Iran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq, was quoted on January 24 as saying that: "We will be seen as being part of the invasion, of being with the Americans. In general, we are already suffering in Iraq from a media campaign representing us as puppets of the Americans."

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 31, No. 23

Dhu al-Qa'dah 29, 14232003-02-01

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