Maneuvering over Transitional Government Continues
Al-Hayat reports that Paul Bremer has put enormous pressure on the Interim Governing Council not to vote on its candidate for president, which might have had the effect of ensconcing the candidate. It is thought that 22 of the 25 IGC members favor Ghazi al-Yawer, a civil engineer and prominent member of the powerful Sunni Shamar clan.
Al-Hayat says that Ghazi al-Yawer was the candidate of the Shiite establishment and the Kurdish parties, while UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi objected to him and preferred Adnan Pachachi as an independent candidate, or some other independent chosen by Brahimi himself.
Some sources said that UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had boycotted Monday’s meeting in protest at the way the Interim Governing Council had just announced on Friday that Iyad Allawi would be prime minister, thus usurping a prerogative that had been granted to the United Nations to choose the candidates. The agreement stipulates that the IGC is only one of three parties, and that it cannot act alone.
Kurdish IGC member Mahmud Uthman (Osman) on the other hand implied that Brahimi had become so weak that he was represented by Bremer at IGC meetings, suggesting that he is nothing more than an American puppet. (Since the IGC has been accused of the same thing, it must have been satsifying to Uthman to be able to make that charge).
An American source at the Coalition Provisional Authority leaked to Agence France Presse the statement that “It is just a complete fabrication that the competition for the post of president is confined to al-Yawer and Pachachi. We are seeking to ensure that the president and a third of the new ministers are political personalities not serving on the Interim Governing Council.”
al-Hayat learned that the foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, will retain his post, as will Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafidh, Culture Minister Mufid al-Jaza’iri, and the minister of science and technology (Rashad Omar ). The power post of Interior Minister, sort of like US Homeland Security Secretary combined with director of the FBI, will probably go to Fallah Hasan al-Naqib, the governor of Salahuddin (al-Hayat says Tikrit) and a close friend of Iyad Allawi. The ministry of finance may go to Adil Abdul Mahdi, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The Minister for Women’s Affairs will probably be Nermin Mufti (a Kurdish name). (The only Nermin Mufti I could find on the internet seemed fairly angry about the US occupation and appears to have been deeply involved in Occupation Watch. But it may be a common name for all I know and not the same person.).
The four current candidates for president are Ra’d Mawlud Mukhlis, a surgeon and head of “The Bloc for the Sake of Iraq;” Muhsin al-Yawer, chieftain of the Shamar tribe and uncle of Ghazi al-Yawer; Ibrahim Faisal al-Ansari, former head of the joint chiefs of staff in the mid-1960s; and Shakir Mahmud Shakir, the former minister of defense in the mid-1960s.
Iyad Allawi as Prime Minister and Fallah al-Naqib as Interior Minister are obviously strong wins for the CIA and the State Department in Iraq, and further signs of the decline of Pentagon political power, which will be reduced to the uniformed military on June 30. Although the Allawis are also related to Pentagon-backed (and now disgraced) Ahmad Chalabi, they are his rivals and form a distinctive clique (Ali Allawi, currently defense minister, is some sort of cousin to Iyad; he is a nephew of Chalabi but disagreed with him on dissolving the army and punishing all Baathists). Note that Chalabi’s close friends are being replaced. Thus, the old minister of finance was Kamel al-Gailani, a close Chalabi associate who supported unbridled robber baron capitalism. It is also significant that his successor is from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite religious party with strong ties to Iran. Bloomberg has done a useful but completely uncritical profile of Iyad Allawi.
Colin Powell at State has gotten control of the $18 billion in reconstruction aid voted by Congress, very little of which the Pentagon managed to disburse. The CIA will reportedly put $3 billion into building up a new Iraqi secret police. Iyad Allawi, who is called “Iyad al-Baathi” on the streets in Iraq, has long had an interest in rebuilding the secret police which seems to me sinister. It is a little shocking that Brahimi should have been willing to be party to this appointment. But I suspect he believes that Allawi cannot be elected to anything important in January, since he has no grassroots support and is widely disliked for his 1970s Baath background before he broke with the party. He had organized ex-Baath officers in the 1990s, some of whom were even more recent converts from the Baath ideology.
Al-Naqib became governor of Salahuddin under suspicious circumstances, which I reported last February. I later learned from CPA sources that the previous governor, whom he replaced, had been accused of extensive corruption. I wrote of Naqib, “Al-Naqib’s father had been a major general in the Iraqi army in the 1970s and then the Baath government’s ambassador to Sweden at the end of the 1970s. He broke with the Saddam regime and became a political refugee in Syria. Al-Naqib himself has an engineering B.Sc. He is the 10th governor of Salahuddin in modern Iraq, and the article calls him the first to be elected. He is the first to hail from Samarra’.”