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

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia  

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Oliver Poole
Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup