5 Members of Interim Governing Council Press for Power
Ahmad Chalabi, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and three other members of the American-appointed Interim Governing Council are using the current difficulties of the Bush administration to press for greater immediate power for themselves. The French at the Security Council have argued for a quick return to Iraqi sovereignty, which appears to have emboldened Chalabi and al-Hakim.
Chalabi probably could not get elected to dog catcher in Iraq if the country goes to elections next year. Paul Bremer was apparently loathe to appoint him to the IGC at all. (Chalabi left Iraq in 1958 and is wanted for embezzling millions of dollars from a bank in Jordan). Likewise, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, might not have much success at the polls given powerful Shiite rivals that have more local popularity. They therefore have an incentive to attempt to grab authority for themselves now, and hope to parlay incumbency into power down the road, as well.
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the head of SCIRI, has been demanding an immediate withdrawal of US troops and wants his paramilitary Badr Corps to be allowed to patrol streets and serve as a police force. If the US withdrew now, or even just gave him a great deal more power, it might consolidate his position. His stated long-term goal is an Islamic Republic in Iraq.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Colin Powell in Baghdad attempted to paint the dire situation in rosey colors and to blame “foreign infiltrators” and “terrorists” for US problems in Iraq. See below for why this is a crock. Powell has less and less credibility as time goes on. The main problem for the US in Iraq is that some Sunni Arabs are resisting their being demoted to a small minority, after having ruled the roost during the twentieth century. A subsidiary problem is that significant numbers of Iraqis do not want a long-term US presence in the country.