politics, history and the war on terror
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Halftime - Iraq 14, Jihad 6 

The path of transition to Iraq's interim government took a step forward, with the naming of the major members of the cabinet and the disbanding of the Iraqi Governing Council (update: The new interim government has taken over the functions of the IGC until the June 30th handover, after which the Coalition Provisional Authority will be dissolved and full sovereignty will be handed over to the Iraqi interim government). There was much disagreement between the United States, the coalition, the Iraqi Governing Council and UN envoy Brahimi over the composition of the interim government:

After a two-day stand-off, the United States and U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi accepted Yawar in the largely ceremonial role of head of state after their preferred candidate, elder statesman Adnan Pachachi, was formally offered the job and turned it down. One Iraqi politician had complained of U.S. "dictatorship" though U.S. officials later denied trying to impose Pachachi. It seemed at first like a clear win for the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, which last week named Allawi as premier in a move that caught Brahimi and Washington off guard. "There were a lot of rows this morning but everything settled down when Pachachi withdrew," Council member Rajaa Habib Khuzai told Reuters. "We think this has been a big victory for the Governing Council and for Iraqis themselves." But in return the 22-member Council agreed to dissolve itself with immediate effect and accepted a cabinet line-up that featured only two Council members, many fewer than it had wanted -- a key demand of the United Nations and U.S. officials.

This process should indeed be viewed as a victory for the Iraqi people. The members of the Iraq Governing Council demonstrated their independences from UN and US by insisting on choosing their candidate for president. Their actions showed Iraqi politicians are willing to take ownership for the future of Iraq. And most importantly, this demonstrated the ability of Iraqis to cross political, religious and ethnic divides in order to negotiate with each other and appoint the members of their interim government. In order for Iraq to maintain its integrity and succeed as an independent and free nation, the Iraqi leadership must learn to work together, and learn to work out differences via negotiation, something that has not occurred in Iraq for decades.

Here is a brief look at the top members of the interim Iraqi government (a full listing can be found here):

The President of the interim government is Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer. Mr. Al-Yawer is a Sunni and member of the diverse Shammar tribe, which opposed Saddam, and is comprised Shiite and Sunni clans throughout Iraq and the gulf region, including Syria and Saudi Arabia. He recently took over as head of the Iraqi Governing Council after the assassination of Izzadine Saleem. The office of President is mainly a ceremonial position (as in many parliamentatry style governments such as Israel and Germany).

Prime Minister
The post of Prime Minister is held by Iyad Allawi, a U.S.-backed secular Shiite who was head of the exile opposition group Iraqi National Accord. He was a unanimous choice of the IGC, and was both minister of trade and defence in the IGC.

Vice Presidents
The interim government will have two Vice Presidents, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a spokesman of the Shiite Islam Dawa Party, and Rowsch Shaways, President of the Kurdistan National Assembly.

Foreign Minister
The post of Foreign Minister is held by Hoshyar Zebari, a former official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party. He was the foreign minister in the IGC, and accused the UN of complicity in Saddam's reign of Terror and fighting over the future of Iraq for political reasons (to discredit the United States) to the detriment of the Iraqi people.

Deputy Prime Minister for National Security
This post is held by Barham Saleh, the prime minister of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Meanwhile, attacks on Iraqis, Americans and coalition forces continue in Iraq:

A car bomb exploded Tuesday in central Baghdad outside the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is located just outside the green zone headquarters of the U.S.-run coalition. At least three people were killed and 20 were injured, the military said.

Another blast, followed by gunfire, sent a mushroom cloud 100 feet billowing into the dusty air hanging over the city. Coalition aircraft could be heard flying over Baghdad.

Elsewhere, a car bomb exploded near the U.S. military base in northern Iraq on Tuesday. Eleven Iraqis were killed and 26 were wounded in the explosion, an Interior Ministry source told The Associated Press.

President Bush has repeatedly warned about this dangerous period in Iraq:

Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal. There are difficult days ahead, and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic.

The Iraqis have moved closer towards self government and must now move closer towards self defense in order for the terrorist and homegrown insurgents to be defeated. Once the Iraqis are the primary face of security, the foreign terrorists cannot claim to be fighting the forces of occupation; they will be fighting the people of Iraq.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:04 PM