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[casi] Iraqi Opposition Delays Announcement of "Provisional Govt."

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            A N U
Assyrian News Watch
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Assyrian Chaldean Syriac


Teheran Times
Juyl 27, 2002

Iraqi Opposition Delays Announcement of "Provisional Govt."

LONDON -- Exiled members of the Iraqi opposition meeting in London Friday
postponed an expected announcement of plans for a "provisional government"
in their country, a delay that appeared to reinforce reports of splits in
their ranks.

A new government in Iraq is being planned as an alternative to the regime
of President Saddam Hussein, according to press reports, amid speculation
the United States is planning action against Baghdad as the next target in
its "war on terror".

However, despite being buoyed by U.S. President George W. Bush's pledge to
use "all tools" at his disposal to remove Saddam, opposition factions
appear divided.

Some among them argue that preparations for an alternative administration
are more likely to inflame internal political rivalries than precipitate
Saddam's downfall.

The Iraqi National Congress (INC), one of the principal opposition groups
in exile, was planning a press conference in London Friday, at which it was
due to "announce a plan for a provisional government", a spokesman told

INC spokesman Faisal Qaragholi said that opposition figures were holding
talks about "a provisional government based on Iraqi soil, in the north of

Earlier this month, after three days of meetings in London, former Iraqi
officers in exile called on the Iraqi Army to topple Saddam, and said they
were setting up a war council to help do so.

But minutes before Friday's conference was due to be held, the INC issued a
statement that it had been postponed "until further notice, to enable
further discussion among Iraqi opposition groups".
No date was given for a further press conference.

As well as the INC, an umbrella group which brings together figures aiming
to topple Saddam, another opposition group -- the Iraqi National
Movement -- was to have taken part in the meeting with journalists.
According to the ***Guardian*** newspaper, a provisional government would
not be formally proclaimed "until the moment fighting starts."

However, the British daily said there were fears the preparations for a new
administration were leading to squabbling among opposition figures.

"It's a stupid thing," Saad Jabr, of the London-based Free Iraqi Council,
another opposition group, told the paper. "It's too early, too premature.
The guys who are not in it (the provisional government) -- they'll all be
against it. If you announce a government in exile, other groups can do it

As the main umbrella group for the Iraqi opposition, the INC has been
heavily supported by U.S. taxpayers over the years, but has run into
arguments about its accounting practices, the ***Guardian*** said.
In January, Washington announced it had suspended funds for the group,
saying there was a lack of control over what happened to the money.

Meanwhile, there is also dispute over how representative the exiled
opposition factions are and how much support they could muster inside Iraq.

Last month, an Iraqi opposition figure told AFP that a U.S.-sponsored Iraqi
opposition conference which was to have been held in late June or early
July was postponed indefinitely, and would be replaced by meetings of
working groups aimed at organizing an enlarged gathering.

Ghassan al-Atiyyah said a wing of the U.S. administration had obstructed
the State Department's efforts to organize the meeting because it feared it
would marginalize the INC.

The State Department had reportedly planned to spend five million dollars
(euros) on a conference at which both Iraqi dissidents and experts would
look into how to govern Iraq if President Saddam Hussein is removed from

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