US Mission in Iraq

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The establishment of the US Mission in Iraq (i.e., U.S. Embassy in Iraq) has been in the making for several months.

According to the January 2, 2004, edition of the Washington Post, reporter Robin Wright writes that the "U.S. Has Big Plans for Embassy in Iraq." This will be the first time the two countries will conduct diplomatic relations since 1991, when Saddam Hussein broke off relations with the United States.

"In preparation for ending its occupation of Iraq, the United States is making plans to create the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in the world in Baghdad, complete with a staff of over 3,000 personnel, according to U.S. officials.
"The transition will mark the hand-over of responsibility for dealing with Iraq from the Pentagon to the State Department, which will then help oversee the two definitive steps in creating Iraq's first freely elected democratic government."
"The bulk of the U.S. staff will continue to be headquartered in Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace. But to avert the potential psychological fallout from staying in the headquarters of the previous dictatorship, the new embassy will officially be in a building not far from the 'Green Zone' [see article below] of Baghdad, where the Coalition Provisional Authority operates. The embassy, however, will have nominal use.
"The United States is tentatively planning to build a new embassy, although construction could take three to five years, U.S. officials say. Over the next two months, the State Department will be intensively recruiting to staff the U.S. Embassy."

In May 13, 2004, oral testimony regarding "Iraq's Imminent Transition to Sovereignty" before the House Committee on Foreign Relations, Lt. Gen. Walter L. Sharp, Director, Strategic Plans and Policy, the Joint Staff, General Sharp said

"Our strategy for security in the transition to Iraq sovereignty has multiple elements: First, we are planning for the transition from occupation to partnership with the Iraqis. To that end, to better coordinate with the new US Mission in Iraq, we are establishing the organization Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), which will be the senior military command in Iraq. It is subordinate to General John P. Abizaid as Commander, U.S. Central Command. We envision this headquarters will work closely with the US Mission on strategic issues regarding our activities and relationship with Iraq. Underneath MNF-I will be our corps-level tactical command that directs the day-to-day tactical operations of the MNF. Both of these headquarters are international in composition, with the key difference that Iraq will be a full partner in the MNF in its own security, together with the rest of the countries of the MNF. Also working for the MNF-I commander will be an organization called the Office of Security Transition-Iraq. This organization is dedicated to the training and equipping of all Iraqi security forces during the transition period such that the Iraqis can assume full responsibility for their own security at the earliest suitable time.
"Our security focus is this: we will continue to train and equip Iraqi security forces while developing effective Iraqi chains of command. We will fund projects designed to help Iraq, employ Iraqis, and by implication, gain Iraqi consent."

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External links

  • 6 December 2003: "Baghdad's U.S. Zone A Stand-In For Home. An Isolated Retreat For Busy Americans" by Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post: Several thousand "government workers, contractors and soldiers live and work in what is called the Green Zone. The four-square-mile area, encircled by 15-foot concrete walls and rings of barbed wire, includes Saddam Hussein's presidential palace compound, which is now the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority that rules Iraq. ... Once an oasis of fabulous architecture, date palms and swimming pools, it is now an eerie mix of shiny white trailers, SUVs, Black Hawk helicopters and other symbols of occupation and ruins created by months of bomb, rocket and mortar attacks. ... Some residents say they prefer the comfort of surroundings like home and are happy to stay here, rather than venture out into the real Iraq. But most people say they came to help -- and for the adventure. Their greatest frustration is that they feel trapped inside the Green Zone."