Iraqi Governing Council

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The Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) . . .

For Council composition, see the article Iraqi Governing Council Membership.


UNITED NATIONS, Aug 13[, 2003] (IPS) - The United States is trying to bestow U.N. legitimacy on a hand-picked, 25-member political body whose mandate to govern war-devastated Iraq is strictly under American tutelage.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte introduced a draft resolution Wednesday that calls on the 15-member United Nations Security Council to formally welcome the month-old Iraqi Governing Council and also to create a new U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Washington is confident that the resolution, which is expected to be put to a vote before the end of the week, will pass.

But the move to seek U.N. recognition for the Council has been criticised by human rights groups, academics, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and even by Arab states.

"The Iraqi Governing Council -- hand-selected by the invading forces -- makes a mockery of the concept of self rule," says Medea Benjamin of Iraq Occupation Watch/(International Occupation Watch Center), an anti-war group that scrupulously monitors the U.S. military occupation of Iraq.

"Many Iraqis are rejecting the Council as a puppet of the occupation, and the United Nations should also reject this," Benjamin told IPS.

She pointed out that the Council was chosen in secrecy, with no clear criteria for membership. "A true process of self-governance would allow Iraqis a much greater say in the composition and criteria for the selection of their transition team. We urge the United Nations not to sanction a process and a Council that emerged from an illegal invasion," she added.

Consisting of 13 Shiites, five Sunnis, five Kurds, one Christian and one Turkmen, the Council has authority to nominate ministers, review laws, sign contracts and approve the national budget.

But the chief U.S. civil administrator in Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer, and his Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) have the power to overrule the Council's decisions, making it a tool in the hands of the United States, critics say.

The 22-member League of Arab States, which represents the political will of all Arab countries in the region, has refused to recognise the U.S. creation.


The resolution, approved on August 14, 2003 by a vote of 14-0, with Syria abstaining, pointedly refrained from "recognizing" the IGC as a proto-government, saying instead that the council is "an important step" in the direction of an internationally recognized and sovereign entity.

Bremer negotiated the formation of the IGC with a number of political players, but he chose to give overwhelming primacy to the views of the main pre-war opposition parties and their allies, the so-called "Group of Seven," most of whom were outside Saddam-controlled Iraq during the last two decades of war and sanctions. In addition to the Iraqi National Congress, his interlocutors included SCIRI, the more liberal wing of the Shiite al-Dawa Party, the Iraqi National Accord headed by Iyad Allawi, the Kurdish Democratic Party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Pachachi, foreign minister of the government overthrown by the Baath Party in 1968. To protect their newfound clout, some of these parties worked hard to block figures who had remained in Iraq throughout Saddam Hussein's rule from getting seats on the council. SCIRI is reported to have demanded a veto over prospective members as a condition of its membership.

Unable to agree on one leader, the IGC decided that the presidency of the executive will rotate monthly in Arabic alphabetical order.

The relative secrecy of the commission's membership (it is known to include Kanan Makiya, a Brandeis University professor and Chalabi strategist who was a vocal proponent of the war, and veteran Kurdish politician Sami Abd al-Rahman) and the absence of any clarity regarding its workings, underscores the IGC's lack of transparency and feeds Iraqi doubts about its independence of the CPA.

--MERIP.org 20 August 2003


2003 Nov 9: "The United States is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning for Iraq's political future" [1] and commentary


Subsequent to the Shiite uprising (can't find article/search broken) of April 2004, the American-appointed IGC, carrying no authority or legitimacy, has been totally eclipsed. When any of its frightened members says a word, it is to criticize the occupation. All current mediation efforts in Sunni or Shi'ite areas are being conducted by influential clerics or tribal chiefs. [2]



Other Related SourceWatch Resources

Compare Iraqi Governing Council with Future of Iraq Project.

External References

  • Iraqi governing council begins, OneNews.nzoom.com, July 13, 2003.
  • Hamza Hendawi, Iraqi governing council named Sunday, AP, July 14, 2003.
  • Many Iraqis Reject U.S.-Appointed Iraqi Governing Council, YellowTimes.org, July 21, 2003.
  • United Nations, IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL MEETS WITH THE PRESS, July 22, 2003. Photos.
  • Security Council: Iraqi Governing Council 1st Step, United Nations Press Release, July 23, 2003.
  • E.A. Khammas; Rahul Mhajan, ed., A Closed Circle of Collaborators. Reactions to the Iraqi Governing Council, Occupation Watch Center, July 28, 2003.
  • Comment: 'I did not want to be a collaborator'. Isam al-Khafaji, a former member of the Iraqi reconstruction council, explains his decision to resign, Guardian Unlimited, July 28, 2003.
  • United Nations, U.S. introduces resolution to welcome Iraqi Governing Council and establish U.N. mission in Iraq, AP, August 14, 2003.
  • Dexter Filkins, Iraqi Council Picks a Cabinet to Run Key State Affairs, The New York Times, September 2, 2003: "The Iraqi Governing Council appointed a 25-member cabinet today to begin taking over day-to-day control of the government, as tension grew between American officials and the council over steps taken to protect its members against assassination.... 'The Iraqis are going take over these ministries and run them,' said Ahmad Chalabi, the council chairman. 'These are very independent people, and they are going to start issuing orders and conducting the affairs of state.'"
  • Patrick E. Tyler and Felicity Barringer, Iraq Council Head Shifts to Position at Odds With U.S., New York Times, September 23, 2003: "Ahmad Chalabi, the president of Iraq's interim government, is in New York this week to press alternatives to the Bush administration's occupation policy in postwar Iraq, he and his aides say. In the process, he may complete a personal transformation from protégé of Pentagon conservatives to Iraqi nationalist with a loud, independent voice."
  • Patrick E. Tyler, Iraq Leaders Seek Greater Role Now in Running Nation, New York Times, September 27, 2003: "Impatience is beginning to grow here as Iraqi officials chafe at the strictures of an American occupation, which, they say, has in some cases slowed reconstruction because power is centralized in the hands of the military commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, and the civilian occupation administrator, L. Paul Bremer III.... But at the same time, the United States is convinced that the Iraqi Governing Council, an appointed rather than an elected body, is not ready to take control of an unstable and still violent country."
  • Robin Wright and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Alternatives to Iraqi Council Eyed, Washington Post, November 10, 2003: "Increasingly alarmed by the failure of Iraq's Governing Council to take decisive action, the Bush administration is developing possible alternatives to the council to ensure that the United States can turn over political power at the same time and pace that troops are withdrawn, according to senior U.S. officials here and in Baghdad."
  • George Packer, War After the War. What Washington doesn't see in Iraq, The New Yorker, November 24, 2003.
  • Joel Brinkley, A REGION INFLAMED: INTERIM GOVERNMENT; Some Members Propose Keeping Iraqi Council After Transition (Abstract), New York Times, November 25, 2003: "Leaders of Iraqi Governing Council, who promised to dissolve body when new provisional government is elected in June, are now lobbying to stay in power as second legislative body; opponents suspect leaders like Jalal Talabani and Ahmad Chalabi are afraid they will not win in elections."
  • Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Council In Iraq Resisting Ayatollah, Washington Post, December 2, 2003: "A majority of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council has decided to support an American plan to select a provisional government through regional caucuses despite objections from the country's most powerful Shiite Muslim cleric."
  • Slobodan Lekic, Iraqi Council Head Demands Direct Vote, AP, December 3, 2003. This URL no longer connects with this article (12/4/03).
  • Kevin Komarow, Iraqi Governing Council in 'a serious crisis', USAToday, December 4, 2003: "six months after its creation as a bridge to democracy, the Iraqi Governing Council may be hampering the U.S.-led coalition's efforts to speed up the transfer of political power to Iraqis. ... The 24-member council, appointed by U.S. authorities, is: Locked in a dispute over elections; Blamed by many Iraqis for the lack of security, power outages and other problems in the country; [and] Losing support from Iraqis who see its members as aloof and mostly interested in self-promotion. ... 'The Governing Council is in a serious crisis, and they will never get out of it,' says Wisal Najib Al-Azawi, dean of political science at Mesopotamia University in Baghdad. 'The people now feel that this council is imposed by the Americans.'"
  • Hamza Hendawi, Iraq Council May Not Exist Past July, AP, December 11, 2003: "The U.S.-appointed Governing Council will not be allowed to exist beyond July 1, when a provisional Iraqi government with full sovereign powers takes office, coalition officials said, despite the desires of most council members to keep it going. ... But some council members have said that calls for the continuation of the council beyond July 1 were primarily voiced by members concerned about losing influence or upsetting their political prospects if they must contest elections."