Washington's manoeuvring threatens Iraq's sovereignty before it has even begun

Share
Related Topics

No sooner have the first flickers of hope appeared on Iraq's battle-scarred horizon, than they are brutally extinguished, leaving the outlook even gloomier than it was before.

The tragic pattern has become almost familiar, so often have we seen it over the past year. No sooner have the first flickers of hope appeared on Iraq's battle-scarred horizon, than they are brutally extinguished, leaving the outlook even gloomier than it was before.

One week ago, the United Nations appeared to have made impressive headway in finding well-qualified Iraqis prepared to serve in an interim government until elections next year. Now, not only is the whole process deadlocked over the choice of president, but it turns out that the guiding role the UN was supposed to have been playing has never been anything of the kind. The end-of-month deadline for naming the new government has not been met.

If the deadline had been missed because productive discussion had simply overrun its allotted time, that would be one thing. But this is not the case. Nor is it the case, as it originally seemed, that the delay reflected divisions among members of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council or between them and the UN. The reality is more complex, more disappointing and more malign.

What emerged during yesterday's 24 hour cooling-off period was that, far from standing aside - "taking the training wheels off", as President Bush so patronisingly said recently - Washington has been intimately engaged in the whole process of forming Iraq's interim government, a hidden hand shaping the new structures and pushing the nominations. But for the emergence of last-minute differences and the awkwardness, perhaps, of certain influential Iraqis, the United States might have succeeded in passing off Iraq's caretaker government as independent and endorsed by the UN, when it was actually as much a creature of Washington as its predecessor, the IGC.

Here was another lie in the making, another misrepresentation to add to the misrepresentations that have studded the US and British intervention in Iraq, from the propaganda about weapons of mass destruction on.

There were clues. The UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been increasingly open about the differences between himself and the Americans. He made clear that he would not remain in Iraq after the formation of a new government, contrary to speculation that he would take on a position akin to UN governor. He then clarified that not only would there be no role for him, but the United Nations would not play the "vital role" that the British and Europeans had favoured for it during the period between occupation and elections. Finally, there was the confusion surrounding the naming of Iyad Allawi as Prime Minister, and hints that it was neither the IGC nor the UN that had put him forward, but Washington's proxies.

So it was apparent even before yesterday that the UN's function in a "sovereign" Iraq would be far less than envisaged and probably far less than would make it acceptable to the majority on the Security Council. Admittedly, it was never as clear as it should have been whether the UN would actually nominate the members of an interim government or merely facilitate the government's formation. The hope may have been that the exact mechanism would be of little consequence so long as the government itself ultimately had the blessing of the UN. Without that, it would have no chance of acceptance among Iraqis.

A "vital role" for the UN was one precondition of broad international support for any interim Iraqi government. Another was the need for a definitive end to the occupation. While it was accepted that the US, British and other troops would most likely remain, on terms agreed with the UN and the new government, it was crucial that Iraqis had to be seen to be in charge of the whole administrative apparatus after 30 June. This was the minimum that would have given the transfer of sovereignty credibility. With four weeks to go, none of these conditions has been met and the process of forming the government has been exposed as a sham. The best solution now would be a return to the drawing board, especially if the only other alternative is the battlefield.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links