Iraqi sovereignty: Exit Strategy from Iraq

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Although an Exit Strategy from Iraq was anticipated to follow Iraqi sovereignty: June 30, 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was quoted April 12, 2005, as saying that the United States "has no exit strategy or timetable for withdrawing its forces from Iraq and a pull-out depends on the readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces." [1]

The UK's Mirror reported April 11, 2005, that it obtained "secret" documents that the U.S. plans to stay in Iraq until 2009: "Contract tender forms for civilian workers disclose a huge expansion of interrogation and detention centres in Iraq to remain in place for a minimum four more years." This means that Britain will be staying as well. [2]

This comes as no surprise, as nearly a year ago, on May 18, 2004, the Washington Post's Daniel Williams asked the yet-unanswered question: "Is the country unmanageable?" Despite the fact that "limited powers" were transferred to a new Iraqi government" on June 30, 2004, U.S. and allied forces are still "unable to eradicate threats to Iraq's stability" and the violence in Iraq continues. [3]

Departure Date Always "Unfixed"

On June 1, 2004, the fifteen-nation United Nations Security Council saw the revised resolution presented by the United States and Britain in which a "rough date" for the departure of the US-led coalition from Iraq.[4][5]

Changes were made to the original resolution "after an outcry from other council nations about sending a clear signal that Iraq will gain full sovereignty when the US-led occupation hands over power to the new interim Iraqi government on June 30." The revised draft mandated that US-led troops who remained in Iraq after June 2004, "would expire 'upon completion of the political process'" of a "constitutionally elected Iraqi government." [6] [7]

Because the political process was "expected to take until late 2005 or even early 2006, it was not immediately clear if the changes would satisfy opposition to the first text that was led by China, France and Germany." [8]

Washington and London have consistently "rejected the idea of a fixed date for the troops to leave, arguing that the uncertain security situation on the ground made it impossible to predict a time for withdrawal." [9]

"The changes to the draft -- including putting Iraqi security forces under Iraqi control -- appeared to indicate a willingness to speed up passage of the measure, with the June 30 deadline not far off on the horizon." [10]

The IGC "Hijacked" the Process

Joshua Micah Marshall pointed out in the June 1, 2004, Talking Points Memo that: [11]

"Now that some of the dust has settled, we can see one thing pretty clearly: the IGC basically hijacked the process. The IGC essentially reconstituted as a caretaker government. The new President, Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, was the current president of the IGC. Hoshiyar Zebari, who was the foreign minister in the IGC, is now the foreign minister under the interim government. Ayad Allawi was a member of and choice of the IGC, etc. And so on down the list. The only key issue is that Ahmed Chalabi, if not his crew, has been purged. Brahimi agreed to a laying on of hands. But he didn't make the choices. He was sidelined."

Juan Cole commented June 1, 2004, that the American position in Iraq had become so weak that "their choice for the ceremonial post of president of the transitional government had to withdraw in favor of Ghazi al-Yawar, the choice of the Interim Governing Council. Special UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi announced Adnan Pachachi as president with the blessing of lame duck American proconsul Paul Bremer. But almost immediately, Pachachi stepped down in favor of al-Yawar, feeling that he lacked the support on the IGC that would be necessary. [12]

Background on the Bush-Blair "Exit Strategy"

On May 17, 2004, Catherine MacLeod reported in the The Herald (UK) that "Bush and Blair speed up their exit strategy" in a "new plan to ensure the new" Iraqi Interim Government "to be set up on June 30 [2004] is a sovereign government supported by a new UN resolution, according to the prime minister's spokesman," who also denied that "the new strategy was a panic-measure to silence the anti-war critics on both sides of the Atlantic."

Nat Parry, in the May 18, 2004, Consortium News, wrote that the "Bush administration's plan to turn over 'sovereignty' to the Iraqis on June 30 [was] starting to look like just the latest scheme to buy time from American voters for a policy that is mired in quicksand with no where to go but down." [13]

Steven R. Wiseman, in the May 17, 2004, edition of the New York Times, summed up the issues [14]

"For weeks, the American occupation authority in Iraq has been updating the timetable leading to the day it is supposed to go out of business, on June 30, declaring on its Web site on Sunday [May 16, 2004] that there were '46 days until Iraqi sovereignty.'
"Yet nowhere on the Web site, or anyplace else in official American statements, can be found the identity of the new Iraqi leadership or the precise powers of the new Iraqi government over many important matters, including the full authority over Iraqi armed forces." [15]

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