Monday, April 23, 2007

Perspective: On This Day In Iraq -- April 23rd edition

April 23, 2006: An Iraqi translator interprets procedures to Iraqi Special Weapons and Tactics members before conducting a joint neighborhood patrol with U.S. Army soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Mosul

April 23, 2002:

Diplomacy US style

Tony Blair might believe he belongs to an international coalition, but George Bush has other ideas. Bush's international war against terrorism has not stopped him from waging a parallel war against cooperation.

Two weeks ago, the US ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna failed, for the first time, to attend a meeting of the comprehensive test ban treaty. This may suggest that America is no longer prepared to abide by the rules against the testing of nuclear warheads. A week ago, the Washington Post revealed that the Pentagon had told the Central Intelligence Agency to investigate Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, in the hope of undermining his credibility. When the CIA failed to discover any evidence of wrongdoing, the deputy defence secretary is reported to have "hit the ceiling".

On Friday, the US government succeeded in dislodging Robert Watson, the chair of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr Watson had been pressing member nations to take the threat of global warming seriously, to the annoyance of the oil company ExxonMobil. Last year, it sent a memo to the White House requesting that he be shoved.

Yesterday evening, after a week of arm-twisting and secret meetings, the US government forced the departure of Jose Bustani, director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. As this column predicted last week, this is the first time that the head of an international organisation has been dismissed during his term in office. The tactics the US has deployed in the past few days to oust Bustani offer a fascinating insight into the way its diplomacy works.

Read the rest at the Guardian

April 23, 2003:

Rumsfeld: Iraq Should Not Be Theocracy

WASHINGTON - The United States expects an eventual government of Iraq to be a democracy where the rights of minorities are guaranteed, not a theocracy run by clerics such as in neighboring Iran, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says.

"There should be a country that is organized and arranged in a way that the various ethnic groups and religious groups are able to have a voice in their government in some form," Rumsfeld said Monday at a Pentagon news conference. "And we hope (for) a system that will be democratic and have free speech and free press and freedom of religion."

Some demonstrators in Iraq, particularly from the Shiite Muslim majority, have called recently for an Islamic republic similar to Iran, where top Shiite clerics known as ayatollahs have the final say. Rumsfeld said such a government would not be truly democratic.

Meanwhile, Rumsfeld said the United States will not keep its military forces in Iraq longer than necessary to stabilize the country. He denied a news report that the United States was planning a long-term military relationship with Iraq that would grant American access to air bases in Baghdad and elsewhere in the country.

"It's flat false," Rumsfeld said, adding that the subject had not even been raised with him.


April 23, 2004:

U.S. plans to limit sovereignty of interim Iraqi government

Bush administration plans for a new caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on the nation's sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday.

These restrictions to the plan, negotiated with special U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, were presented in detail for the first time by top administration officials at congressional hearings this week.

Only 10 weeks from the transfer of sovereignty, the administration is still not sure exactly who will govern in Baghdad or precisely how they will be selected.

A week ago, President Bush agreed to a recommendation by Brahimi to dismantle the existing Iraqi Governing Council, which was handpicked by the United States, and replace it with a caretaker government whose makeup is to be decided next month. That government would stay in power until elections are held, beginning next year.

Several European and U.N. diplomats said in interviews that they did not think that the United Nations would go along with a Security Council resolution sought by Washington that handcuffs the new Iraq government in its authority over its own armed forces, let alone foreign forces on its soil.

These diplomats, and some U.S. officials, said that if the American military command ordered a siege of an Iraqi city, and there was no language calling for an Iraqi government to participate in the decision, the government might not be able to survive protests that could follow.

The diplomats added that it might be unrealistic to expect the new Iraqi government not to demand the right to change Iraqi laws put in place by the U. S. occupation under Paul Bremer, including provisions limiting the influence of Islamic religious law.

Read the rest at the SF Chronicle

April 23, 2005:

Analysis: Iraq still struggling to form new government

BAGHDAD — Nearly three months after millions of Iraqis defied insurgents and risked their lives to elect a parliament, the country is still struggling to form a new government — in large part because of infighting among Shiite and Kurdish factions.

Animosity and distrust left over from Saddam Hussein's brutal regime also are contributing to the delay in forming a Cabinet — a delay that now is close to imperiling the country's democratic progress: If the Cabinet isn't appointed by early next month, interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari could be forced to step down.

The stalemate also comes at a time of stepped-up attacks by insurgents and a U.S. official warned the country was being left with an interim government in limbo at a time when strong leadership is needed to combat the violence.

Read the rest at USA Today

April 23, 2006:

Iraq's political paralysis ends as Shia is chosen as new Prime Minister

The paralysis that has crippled Iraq's government for the past four months eased dramatically yesterday when the Baghdad parliament finally agreed on a new Prime Minister.

The deadlock since December's elections had threatened to destroy Iraq's fragile power structure, but yesterday, after a vote, President Jalal Talabani rose in parliament to ask the Shia politician Jawad al-Maliki to lead postwar Iraq's first full-term government.

'I would like to inform the brothers and sisters that we have decided unanimously to endorse our dear brother, Nouri Jawad al-Maliki, to head the cabinet,' Talabani said.

It was a rare moment of smooth running for the parliament that has been grappling with the process of filling top leadership posts and launching the process of putting together a government strong enough to drag Iraq back from the brink of civil war.
The outgoing interim prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, had been seeking re-election after winning the Shia nomination last February but he was rejected by Sunni, Kurdish and secular factions who thought him ineffectual and weak.

The stalemate ended last Wednesday when Jaafari backed away from his refusal to stand down, saying the decision was in the hands of his Shia alliance.

Maliki, 56, had been part of a three-man Shia team searching for a compromise: it seems he was it.

Read the rest at the Guardian