Friday 09 May 2003
Jay Garner embraces the first "elect'' of the future Iraqi political scene. Their ranks, carefully chosen by the occupying power, are still sparse. Then the civil administrator of Iraq joins the meeting of these representatives of a part of the opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime Thursday night May 8 in a Baghdad hotel.
The American general (retired) and his guests will examine the modalities for the creation of a provisional government that will have the appearance at least of a legitimate Iraqi authority. The closed secret meeting lasts a little longer than an hour. Obviously the United States is in a hurry to fill the political void which does nothing but add to the country's persistent chaos.
In this forced march to democracy, those few personalities selected by Washington are supposed to form the heart of a future interim government. Thursday, the five members already sounded out decided to enlarge their representation. They welcomed two new figures into the heart of their "Board of Directors'': a second tier representative of the oldest Iraqi Islamist party, Al-Daawa (Shi'ite), and a Sunni Arab, Nassif Chaderchi, son of the former president of the National Democratic Party (center left) Kamel Chaderchi, who was ejected from the political world after the Ba'ath takeover in 1968.
The "Board of Directors'' already included leaders of the five groups initially anointed by the United States: Massoud Barzani, head of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK), Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and a religious functionary wearing the black turban of descendants of the Prophet, Abdel Aziz Al-Hakim, of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Shi'ite).
The picture is completed by a personality long exiled in London, Iyad Allaoui, of the Iraqi National Entente (INE), and by the Americans' principal "trainee'', Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress. This group has the next month to prepare the tenor of a "National Congress'' which will be charged with naming a provisional government.
However, the occupation and administration of the country by coalition forces continues to divide the Iraqi political scene. Careful not to show themselves on the American side, without, all the same, keeping themselves removed from a process with a democratic aim, four groups have agreed to participate in the "National Congress'' preparations, Mr. Talabani indicates. These include Al-Daawa and the Communist Party, which had a strong and active base in Iraq before being violently repressed by the Ba'athist regime. Two less important factions, the Islamic Iraqi Party and the Socialist Arab Movement, will also associate themselves with the process. Finally, Adnane Pachachi, a Sunni Moslem former Minister of Foreign Affairs, back in Baghdad after 33 years of exile, would also have "agreed to attend the National Congress and participate in its preparation'', according to the same source.
The thorny question of recourse to former officials of the fallen regime was discussed. An agreement has been concluded with the Americans to create a ``common security commission'' with the objective of "cooperating at this level with the coalition forces'' to obtain "information about the members of the Ba'ath party so as to eliminate the remains of the Iraqi leadership still in Iraq'', Mr. Chalabi indicated.
A number of former Ba'athist officials "are worth detaining and questioning, at least'', specified a DPK spokesman, Fawzi Hariri. "The situation improves a little every day'', Jay Garner limited himself to saying. He will be "capped'' by the Iraqi Administrator in Chief named by President Bush, Paul Bremer, who should arrive in the country shortly.
Translation: TruthOut French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher