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[casi] Post "Conflict" Iraq - American-style

The Washington Post

February 21, 2003, Friday, Final Edition
HEADLINE: Full U.S. Control Planned for Iraq; American Would Oversee

BYLINE: Karen DeYoung and Peter Slevin, Washington Post Staff Writers

The Bush administration plans to take complete, unilateral control of a
post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, with an interim administration headed by a
yet-to-be named American civilian who would direct the reconstruction of the
country and the creation of a "representative" Iraqi government, according
to a now-finalized blueprint described by U.S. officials and other sources.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the head of the U.S. Central Command, is to maintain
military control as long as U.S. troops are there. Once security was
established and weapons of mass destruction were located and disabled, a
U.S. administrator would run the civilian government and direct
reconstruction and humanitarian aid.

In the early days of military action, U.S. forces following behind those in
combat would distribute food and other relief items and begin needed
reconstruction. The goal, officials said, would be to make sure the Iraqi
people "immediately" consider themselves better off than they were the day
before war, and attribute their improved circumstances directly to the
United States.

The initial humanitarian effort, as previously announced, is to be directed
by retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay M. Garner. But once he got to Baghdad, sources
said, Garner would quickly be replaced as the supreme civil authority by an
American "of stature," such as a former U.S. state governor or ambassador,
officials said.

Officials said other governments are being recruited to participate in
relief and reconstruction tasks under U.S. supervision at a time to be
decided by Franks and officials in Washington. Although initial food
supplies are to be provided by the United States, negotiations are underway
with the U.N. World Food Program to administer a nationwide distribution

Opposition leaders were informed this week that the United States will not
recognize an Iraqi provisional government being discussed by some expatriate
groups. About 20 to 25 Iraqis would assist U.S. authorities in a
U.S.-appointed "consultative council," with no governing responsibility.
Under a decision finalized last week, Iraqi government officials would be
subjected to "de-Baathification," a reference to Hussein's ruling Baath
Party, under a program that borrows from the "de-Nazification" program
established in Germany after World War II.

Criteria by which officials would be designated as too tainted to keep their
jobs are still being worked on, although they would probably be based more
on complicity with the human rights and weapons abuses of the Hussein
government than corruption, officials said. A large number of current
officials would be retained.

Although some of the broad strokes of U.S. plans for a post-Hussein Iraq
have previously been reported, newly finalized elements include the extent
of U.S. control and the plan to appoint a nonmilitary civil administrator.
Officials cautioned that developments in Iraq could lead them to revise the
plan on the run. Yet to be decided is "at what point and for what purpose" a
multinational administration, perhaps run by the United Nations, would be
considered to replace the U.S. civil authority.

"We have a load of plans that could be carried out by an international
group, a coalition group, or by us and a few others," one senior U.S.
official. President Bush, the official said, doesn't want to close options
until the participants in a military action are known and the actual postwar
situation in Iraq becomes clear.

The administration has been under strong pressure to demonstrate that it has
a detailed program to deal with what is expected to be a chaotic and
dangerous situation if Hussein is removed. The White House plans to brief
Congress and reporters on more details of the plan next week.

No definitive price tag or time limit has been put on the plan, and
officials stressed that much remains unknown about the length of a potential
conflict, how much destruction would result, and "how deep" the corruption
of the Iraqi government goes.

The administration has declined to estimate how long U.S. forces would
remain in Iraq. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman told Congress last
week that it might be two years before the Iraqis regained administrative
control of their country. But "they're terrified of being caught in a time
frame," said retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, one of a number of senior
military and civilian experts who have been briefed by the Pentagon on the
plan. "My own view is that it will take five years, with substantial
military power, to establish and exploit the peace" in Iraq.

Although more than 180,000 U.S. troops are on the ground in the Persian Gulf
region, U.S. officials continued to emphasize that President Bush still has
not made a final decision on whether to go to war. Negotiations at the
United Nations, where Bush is seeking a new Security Council resolution
declaring that Hussein has violated U.N. disarmament demands and authorizing
that he be disarmed by a U.N. multinational force, are at a delicate stage.

A majority of the council's 15 members have said they believe a decision on
war should be delayed while U.N. weapons inspections, launched in November,
continue. Bush has said that, if necessary, the U.S. military and a
"coalition of the willing" will disarm Iraq without U.N. approval.

The administration also is continuing discussions with Arab governments
about the possibilities of exile for Hussein and several dozen of his family
members and top officials. Sources said, however, that even if Hussein and a
small group of others were to leave, uncertainties about who would remain in
charge, the need to destroy weapons of mass destruction, and concerns about
establishing long-term stability would probably lead to the insertion of
U.S. troops there in any case.

Among the other parts of the post-Hussein plan:

* Iraqi military forces would be gathered in prisoner-of-war camps, with
opposition members now receiving U.S. training at an air base in Hungary
serving as part of the guard force. The Iraqi troops would be vetted by U.S.
forces under Franks's command, and those who were cleared, beginning with
those who "stood down or switched sides" during a U.S. assault, would
receive U.S. training to serve in what one official called a
"post-stabilization" force.

* U.S. forces would secure any weapons of mass destruction that were found,
including biological and chemical weapons stores. "At an appropriate time,"
an official said, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency, who are conducting
U.N.-mandated weapons inspections in Iraq, might be brought in to examine
weaponry, scientists and documentation.

* In addition to the consultative council, an Iraqi commission would be
formed to reestablish a judicial system. An additional commission would
write a new constitution, although officials emphasized that they would not
expect to "democratize" Iraq along the lines of the U.S. governing system.
Instead, they speak of a "representative Iraqi government."

Officials said the decision to install U.S. military and civilian
administrations for an indeterminate time stems from lessons learned in
Afghanistan, where power has been diffused among U.S. military forces still
waging war against the remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda, a multinational
security force of several thousand troops in which the United States does
not participate, and the interim government of Afghan President Hamid

The administration is particularly keen on averting interference by other
regional powers, and cites the "ability of people like the Iranians and
others to go in with money and create warlords" sympathetic to their own
interests, one official said. "We don't want a weak federal government that
plays into the hands of regional powers" and allows Iraq to be divided into
de facto spheres of influence. "We don't want the Iranians to be paying the
Shiites, the Turks the Turkmen and the Saudis the Sunnis," the official,
referring to some of the main groups among dozens of Iraqi tribes and ethnic
and religious groups.

A similar anxiety led to the decision to prohibit the Iraqi opposition based
outside the country from forming a provisional government. The chief
proponent of that idea, Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress,
was informed this week that any move to declare a provisional Iraqi
government "would result in a formal break in the U.S.-INC relationship,"
the official said.

CORRECTION-DATE: February 22, 2003, Saturday

A Feb. 21 article about post-Saddam Hussein Iraq should have made clear that
an assessment by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman about a future U.S.
presence in Iraq did not refer to the duration of an American military
deployment there.

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