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[casi] New Regime in Mideast?,3604,927003,00.html
US draws up secret plan to impose new regime on Iraq

Brian Whitaker and Luke Harding in Sulaimaniya
Tuesday April 1, 2003
The Guardian

A disagreement has broken out at a senior level within the Bush
administration over a new government that the US is secretly planning in
Kuwait to rule Iraq in the immediate period after the overthrow of Saddam
Under the plan, the government will consist of 23 ministries, each headed by
an American. Every ministry will also have four Iraqi advisers appointed by
the Americans, the Guardian has learned.

The government will take over Iraq city by city. Areas declared "liberated"
by General Tommy Franks will be transferred to the temporary government
under the overall control of Jay Garner, the for mer US general appointed to
head a military occupation of Iraq.

In anticipation of the Baghdad regime's fall, members of this interim
government have begun arriving in Kuwait.

Decisions on the government's composition appear to be entirely in US hands,
particularly those of Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence. This
has annoyed Gen Garner, who is officially in charge but who, according to
sources close to the planning of the government, has had to accept the
inclusion of a number of controversial Iraqis in advisory roles.

The most controversial of Mr Wolfowitz's proposed appointees is Ahmed
Chalabi, the head of the opposition Iraqi National Congress, together with
his close associates, including his nephew.

During his years in exile, Mr Chalabi has cultivated links with Congress to
raise funds, and has become the Pentagon's darling among the Iraqi
opposition. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, is one of his strongest

The state department and CIA, on the other hand, regard him with deep

Mr Chalabi had envisaged becoming prime minister in an interim government,
and is disappointed that no such post is included in the US plan. Instead,
the former banker will be offered an advisory job at the finance ministry.

A senior INC official said last night that Mr Chalabi would not countenance
a purely advisory position. The official added: "It is certainly not the
INC's intention to advise any US ministers in Iraq. Our position is that no
Americans should run Iraqi ministries. The US is talking about an interim
Iraqi authority taking over, but we are calling for a provisional

The revelation about direct rule is likely to cause intense political
discomfort for Tony Blair, who has been pressing for UN and international
involvement in Iraq's reconstruction to overcome opposition in Britain as
well as heal divisions across Europe.

The Foreign Office said last night that a "relatively fluid" number of
British officials had been seconded to the planning team.

Last week Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, told Congress that
immediately after the fall of President Saddam's regime, the US military
would take control of the Iraqi government.

His only concession was that this would be done with the "full
understanding" of the international community and with "the UN presence in
the form of a UN special coordinator".

By imposing Mr Chalabi and his clique on the official
administration-in-waiting, Mr Wolfowitz seems to be trying to appease the
INC leader, even at the risk of annoying Gen Garner and those in Washington
who consider him unsuitable for a senior post.

Mr Chalabi is former chairman of the Petra Bank in Jordan which collapsed,
bringing ruin to many of its depositors. He was eventually convicted of
fraud in his absence by a Jordanian court, though he maintains he is

Mr Chalabi has not lived in Iraq since 1956, apart from a short period
organising resistance in the Kurdish north in the 1990s, and is thought to
have little support inside Iraq.

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