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[casi-analysis] Allawi

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Dear list,

The best reporting I've found on the appointment of Iyad Allawi as PM is
by Steven Weisman and Warren Hoge in the NYT. I'm getting to be a big fan
of Weisman, so I've pasted the whole article below.

Weisman and other journalists are doing a pretty good job of explaining
how this was a shock move by the IGC (which, on past form, I suppose
everyone expected to be divided and indecisive), and how Brahimi, and even
Washington, are a bit unnerved by it. Several other aspects strike me as
fascinating. I´ve jotted some notes below, but be warned that these don´t
really lead anywhere - they´re just me thinking aloud, and I haven´t made
up my mind about any of this yet.

1) Shahristani, Brahimi, and technocracy. The Weisman article which I sent
to the news list on Thursday was one of many which seemed certain that
Shahristani would be Prime Minister. By Brahimi's criteria - which are not
necessarily perfect themselves - Shahristani would have been a sensible

Brahimi, somewhat bizarrely, denied [3] wanting to appoint a caretaker
government of non-aligned technocrats (and similarly, the mid-April
'Brahimi plan' [6] is far less clear on this position than most media
reports). However, he directly uses the term in an interview with
newspaper Le Matin, in his native Algeria [2] (this is a very interesting
interview, in which Brahimi is extremely candid on Chalabi, America,
Palestine, and much else). Perhaps technocrat isn´t exactly the right word
- what Brahimi was after was the kind of person the British Establishment
is depressingly good at producing - a ´good old chap´ with enough
competence to keep things ticking over for 6 months, but not enough nous
or ambition to do anything more.

Essentially, what Brahimi wanted was a Prime Minister who was not the
leader of a political party, who had no real power base, and who would not
try to make too many dramatic changes during the transition period. His
main concern is that the caretaker PM, who is necessarily illegitimate and
unaccountable, will use his position to take control of Iraq by patronage,
corruption or intimidation, or will try to push a partisan or divisive
agenda during the transition. Shahristani couldn´t have taken over if he
tried. Allawi, with his military links, party base, and family contacts,
possibly could.

2) In ´the meaning of Liff´ [16], Douglas Adams suggests the ver ´Hoff´ to
describe indignant denial of something which is palpably true. That´s what
the UN is doing with their incomprehensible claims that Brahimi was never
going to choose the Prime Minister anyway:

'UN spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi said al-Ibrahimi and the UN were never meant
to appoint the government, but help Iraqis identify candidates.

"We were not invited to appoint the government," Fawzi said.' [4]

Rewriting history in this way infuriates me more than it probably should.
The political impact of such a statement is minimal, so why bother denting
your credibility like that?

3. Reporters and politicians still seem to be confusing opinions within
the IGC and the view of 'Iraqis'. Take for example a piece in the LA Times
[17] which refers to a ´groundswell of support for him [Allawi] in the
last 10 days´. This may be true within the Council (although see the point
below). But the term ´groundswell´ implies the involvement of more than 25
people, and I very much doubt there was a ´groundswell´ in the country as
a whole. A Reuters report [10] shows significant opposition to Allawi ´on
the street´ (although this kind of reportage tends to reflect the
journalist's own views more than anything else). And, even if Allawi was
incredibly popular, I find it hard to believe in a nationwide groundswell
taking place in just over a week, in a divided country with immature
political structures and deep distrust of most of its political leaders.

4. In connection with the above, I´m surprised by the report in the
Washington Post[15], which describes the GC decision as being painless and
unanimous. We´ve seen before how the media - especially the Western media
- can overstate the level of agreement within the Council, either as a
result of lazy journalism, or because of misleading briefings and leaks by
various spokesmen.

Compare current events to those a couple of weeks ago, when it seemed that
the whole Governing Council - and hence, by the sloppy logic of the point
above, the whole of Iraq - loathed Brahimi[12]. Only later did it emerge
[13] that the anger against Brahimi came mostly from Da'wa and the INC.
There have been various other complaints from within the IGC that their
views are being misrepresented by spokesmen and media briefings.

According to the Post report, 'council members insisted that the prime
minister be a leader of a large Shiite political party, council sources
said, adding that some members even hinted that they would withhold
support for the interim government if Brahimi did not pick a Shiite

Which council members? Are Sunni IGC members really threatening to resign
unless a Shiite is chosen to lead the country? If so, that is pretty
dramatic news. If not, the journalist should be a bit more careful about
representing the council as more homogenous than it really is.

The Post´s comment about the choice of Alawi being over ´within minutes´
is also highly misleading. Even if the formal meeting was quick, there
must have been a good deal of informal negotiation beforehand. The LA
Times piece [17] is much better on this, and explains some of the
manouvering. It also has Toby Dodge explaining that, in the reporter´s
words, ´Choosing Allawi means that the new government will look a lot like
the current Governing Council´. It doesn´t comment on whether Council
members were influenced by the prospect of having their positions
transposed into the next phase of transition.

5. Foreign influence. One quote from the Washington Post article seems
particularly telling on the relationship between Iraq and the US over the
next few years:

'Ahmed Shyaa Barak, another Shiite member, acknowledged that Allawi lacked
wide public support, but he said other skills made him the right person
for the job. "Dr. Allawi has good connections with the British and
American governments, and that will be important for us," Barak said.'

We're going to be seeing plenty more of this in the future. From July, the
West's main means of controlling Iraq will not be through
American-friendly institutions like the Board of Supreme Audit, the Office
of the Inspector General, and the Communications and Media Commission
(although these arrangments matter, and I suggest reading what Glen [15]
and others are writing about them). Nor - at least directly - will it be
through the command structures of troops in Iraq, which is so important in
current Security Council discussions. It will simply be in the interests
of whoever is running the country to put US pressure ahead of public
opinion. And so they will, whether they are appionted or elected,
long-term friends of the pentagon or Islamis ayatollahs. Look at
Afghanistan, where the only power that Hamid Karzai has is his links to
foreign states, and the vague sense in the Western public shere that he's
our guy and we should look after him.

6 I'm sure plenty of biographies of Allawi will be turning up soon. For
now, Glen [5] has a good summary of the history of Allawi's INA (as of
last year). Post-war, he's done much the same as the rest of the Governing
Council. That is, assorted speeches, manouvering and public diplomacy (and
was president of the GC in October), but not much to either love or hate.
There were reports that he had resigned from the Governing Council in
early April in protest at Fallujah. But, like the other resigners, he
seems to have done it without actually leaving the council.

In terms of stature, he´s comfortably on the national B-list. According to
a poll earlier this year [11], Iyad Allawi got 0.2% of responses to the
question 'which national leader in Iraq, if any, do you trust the most',
and 0.5% of responses to 'and, if any, which one do you not trust at all'
[the approval is not as low as it seems when you consider that half of
respondents effectively refused to answer, and that the choices were
widely distributed among a few dozen politicians]

So Allawi is fairly unpopular - not nearly as bad as Chalabi, and probably
just suffering the inevitable political costs of being out of the country
and close to the CIA.

I'm sure a good deal will be made of the fact that he is Chalabi's uncle
(although the current line, on the wire services at least, is that they
aren't that close). I'm not too worried about the fact that two
politicians are related. What does disturb me a little is the extent of a
network where

i) PM-to-be Iyad Allawi is related to trade and defense minsiter Ali
Allawi (one person controlling two ministries is infuriating enough, but
for the past couple of months it appears that he's been trying to set
himself up as a potential strongman/peacemaker)

ii) Both Allawi's are the nephews of Ahmed Chalabi, who among other things
controls the IGC finances, and the INC (which has, for example, apparently
been quite efficient in moving it's militia into the various civil defense
services, notably those guarding the oil pipelines [7]). Not to mention
having the captured documents which give him unknown amounts of leverage
over everyone who's ever been naughty.

iii) Both Allawis are therefore cousins of Salem (Sam) Chalabi, Ahmed's
son, who drafted much of the Transitional Administrative Law (Salon, 4
May), is involved in dodgy deals with Doug Faith and Mark Zell[8], and
also, depending on who you believe, either running the prosecution of
Saddam (NYT 7/4/04) or just the administrative aspects of it [9]

Now I admit that there are some fairly significant disagreements among
these people, and that family isn't the same as political alliance (look
at how different the apolitical, Sistani-following Hussein al-Sadr is from
his relative Muqtada). And political dynasties seem to be prominent
everywhere (take India, where Sonia Gandhi won an election because of a
dead husband with a famous name). But it would be interesting to see a
more complete family tree for the Iraqi political elite. Or perhaps a list
member more in tune with these things could comment on how close the
Allawi is to his various relatives?

1. BBC article:


(OCHA, 10/5)



6. the 16/4 'brahimi

7. I can't remember where I heard the bit about the oil guards and the INC
militia, so take that bit as gossip only.

8. See in early April for this. I think it's
also been reported in various papers. The gist seems to be 'he's
uncomfortably close to the people handing out contracts' rather than any
certifiable wrongdoing.








16. A hilarious book which reuses place-names to describe common
situations for which no words exist. You can read it at


May 29, 2004 SELECTING A LEADER Surprising Choice for Premier of Iraq
Reflects U.S. Influence By WARREN HOGE and STEVEN R. WEISMAN

NITED NATIONS, May 28 \x{2014} After turning to the United Nations to
shore up its failing effort to fashion a new government in Baghdad, the
United States ended up Friday with a choice for prime minister certain to
be seen more as an American candidate than one of the United Nations or
the Iraqis themselves.

The man chosen to be prime minister, Iyad Alawi, is the secretary general
of the Iraqi National Accord, an exile group that has received funds from
the Central Intelligence Agency. His ties with the C.I.A., and his
closeness to the United States could become an issue in a country where
public opinion has grown almost universally hostile to the Americans.

The announcement of Dr. Alawi's selection appeared to surprise several at
the United Nations.

"When we first heard the news today, we thought that the Iraqi Governing
Council had hijacked the process," said a senior United Nations official,
referring to the American-picked body that voted to recommend Dr. Alawi
earlier on Friday.

A senior State Department official in Washington, as well as a senior
American official in Baghdad, said Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations
envoy asked by the United States to choose an interim government for Iraq,
had indeed selected Dr. Alawi. The State Department official suggested
that the Iraqi council had merely ratified the selection after the fact in
order to make it seem that the council was the kingmaker.

According to other reports, Dr. Alawi appeared on Mr. Brahimi's short list
of candidates, but it was unclear whether the selection of Dr. Alawi had
Mr. Brahimi's wholehearted support.

Statements from the United Nations seemingly confirmed the idea that Mr.
Brahimi was merely bowing to the wishes of the others.

"Mr. Brahimi respects the decision and says he can work with this person,"
Fred Eckhard, the spokesman for Secretary General Kofi Annan, said in
response to a barrage of skeptical questioning. Asked what Mr. Annan's
view was, Mr. Eckhard said: "The secretary general respects the decision,
as I said Mr. Brahimi does. `Respect' is a very carefully chosen word."

Some time later, perhaps because of the skepticism that comment
engendered, a less circumspect statement was issued in the name of Ahmad
Fawzi, Mr. Brahimi's press spokesman, saying: "Let there be no
misunderstanding. Mr. Brahimi is perfectly comfortable with how the
process is proceeding thus far."

In a telephone interview from Baghdad, Mr. Brahimi refused to discuss the
selection of Dr. Alawi. "I don't want to go back saying who is good and
who is bad," he said.

But in a hint that the selection process had not gone exactly as planned,
Mr. Brahimi added, "You know, sometimes people think I am a free agent out
here, that I have a free hand to do whatever I want." He noted that he had
been asked to take on the job in a letter to Mr. Annan from the Coalition
Provisional Authority in Iraq and the Iraqi Governing Council.

United Nations officials said Dr. Alawi had been on Mr. Brahimi's list of
acceptable candidates for prime minister, although he was not his first
choice. The officials said Dr. Alawi had ranked third on the list.

The United Nations is wary of having the world organization or Mr. Brahimi
himself appear too close to the United States. At the same time, Mr.
Brahimi must balance many competing interests as he moves between the
American occupying powers and the Iraqis.

Mr. Brahimi said he felt that regardless of how the selection of Dr. Alawi
had emerged, it would free him to proceed rapidly with a host of choices
he had settled on for other ranking government positions.

"This is the first name to come out, but there is still the rest of the
government to complete," he said. "All of this is going to take place in
the next few days, and I am very, very much involved in this process."

Among the jobs he has to fill and for which his aides say he now has names
ready to go are a president, two vice presidents and 26 cabinet members
for the new government, the members of a preparatory committee planning a
national council of Mr. Brahimi's design for a post-transition and the
officials for an electoral commission.

The choices could become known as early as Sunday, aides said.

Mr. Fawzi said Mr. Brahimi and Dr. Alawi had met often. "His name came up
frequently in the wide-ranging consultations that Brahimi conducted," Mr.
Fawzi said in a telephone interview from the Netherlands, where he had
gone from Baghdad on personal business.

United Nations officials said any misgivings that Mr. Brahimi had about
Dr. Alawi were not about the man himself but about his past associations
and how they might play with the Iraqi public, because of Dr. Alawi's ties
with the C.I.A.

"Let's see what the Iraqi street has to say about this name," Mr. Eckhard

Members of the United Nations Security Council, which this week began
negotiating a new resolution for post-transition Iraq, had been expecting
Mr. Brahimi to deliver the names for a new government by the end of the
month. They had also been told that the names would be made public as a
group, not in the sporadic and individual manner that Dr. Alawi's name
emerged Friday.

Asked about those expectations, Mr. Eckhard said, "This is not the way we
expected this to happen, no, but the Iraqis seem to agree on this name,
and if they do, Mr. Brahimi is ready to work with him."

France, Germany, Russia and China, all opponents of the Iraq war a year
ago, complained Tuesday that the draft resolution submitted by Britain and
the United States had left unclear the crucial relationships between the
new government, the Iraqi armed forces and the United States-led
multinational force that will remain in Iraq.

In response, the American and British sponsors of the resolution promised
that the names would come in time for the Council to factor them and their
views into its deliberations.

Mr. Brahimi said he agreed wholeheartedly with the Security Council
members' wishes. "The Security Council is right in saying that this new
government must take part in the discussions on the resolution," he said.

Warren Hoge reported from the United Nations for this article, and Steven
R. Weisman from Washington.

Daniel O'Huiginn
07745 192426
01223 704075
M13, Queens College

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