Iraq

What sort of sovereignty for Iraq after 30th June? Can the American leopard change its spots? asks Jim Addington

The airwaves and newspaper presses are awash with forecasts of what the Iraq interim government will look like on 1st July. Nobody seems to doubt that there will be an interim government and that sovereignty will be handed over. Nor have many questioned whether the occupiers, the US and UK governments, intend to give up control or leave with their basic purposes of controlling the Middle East and its oil reserves unfulfilled. Interviewed by Jeremy Paxman last week, Noam Chomsky said that the purpose of the invasion was "to establish the first secure base in a client state in an oil-rich region". Asked about the aim to spread values of liberal democracy in the Middle East Chomsky said "it would be a good idea to spread the values of liberal democracy - but that's not what they are doing".

Protests from the occupiers that complete sovereignty will be handed over are false. While Tony Blair, in his latest monthly press conference said Iraq's sovereignty will be real and genuine, the draft resolution before the UN Security Council awards military control to the multinational force (led by the US forces) with the words "The multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the security and stability in Iraq...". If this resolution is passed the US and UK will be given carte blanche by the United Nations to continue the occupation. It is as if a burglar, or murderer, is given permission by the civil authority to continue his lawbreaking. It is difficult to see how the French and German governments can support such a decision.

The governments of the USA and UK, supported by much of the media, continue to maintain the fiction that the attack on Iraq was intended to bring democracy. Sovereignty, according to the dictionary means, "supreme dominion, authority or rule, absolute or independent authority". If the US occupiers were serious about returning sovereignty they would not have left it until barely a month before the handover of power to create an interim government.

Nor should anyone be surprised to learn that the 'Visiting Forces Act' governing the conduct of foreign troops is likely to be renewed. In fact neither US or British troops will be maintained in Iraq unless the new interim government, in place for a mere six months, agrees that all crimes by military personnel will be dealt with under their own home-based rules. Yet, in spite of recent allegations of mistreatment alleged against British troops, it seems that there have been no charges.

The new UN resolution is necessary to legitimise the interim government now being chosen by Lakhdar Brahimi but it is difficult to see how the UN can agree to the creation of an Iraq that is still dependent on the invaders for its security. This also raises the question; what

security? It has been clear since August, when the United Nations' representative was murdered with many of his staff, that Iraq is no place for a peace-keeping type of operation. This relies on the support of the people of a client state and its government. The new temporary government will be no more able to guarantee the safety of UN personnel than the present occupiers.

In Basra last week Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP who chairs the party's Middle East Council  was in Iraq with the UK Defence Select Committee He said "We are now the problem in Iraq. I supported the war but only our withdrawal can end the insurgency...the US coalition is now part of the problem, not the solution. He described the British occupation of Iraq after the First World War. Greeted first as liberators they came to be seen as occupiers, which made their position untenable.

  US General Zinni is a new authoritative voice added to the worldwide cacophony of objections to the war on Iraq and its occupation. He said "The plan was wrong. It was the wrong war, the wrong place and the wrong time - with little or no planning". Zinni accused the US government of dereliction of duty and criminal negligence. Poor planning had put US forces in harm's way and left Iraq in chaos after the invasion. General Zinni held the command of US Central Command and was the president's special envoy to the Middle East until he resigned in disgust. "Heads should roll at the Pentagon", naming Rumsfeld, Wolfowits (to be the new US ambassador in Iraq) and others.

It is hard to see how peace and stability, let alone democracy, can be brought to Iraq. The ill thought out US/UK plan is for a creation of an interim government intended to take over at less than five weeks' notice. To date neither President or Prime minister have been announced

Its powers will be circumscribed by existing Iraq Coalition Authority regulations and it will not be allowed to make decisions that would pre-empt those to be made by the successor government and parliament.  

Iraq is still in a state of war. Contrary to previous statements Bush now says that violence will increase before the so-called handover and afterwards. The Interim government chosen by one man will be thrust into government without powers, reliant on US security forces that offer little protection for office-holders or for those appointed by the UN to prepare for elections.

Jim Addington is chair of the UK-based Action for UN Renewal