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1) US 'wants Iraq council scrapped' 2) 'Shambolic' Iraqi council forcing US to think again 3) US tiring of Iraq council - report 4) Ineffective Iraqi council angers its US backers ------------------ 1) http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3256005.stm Monday, 10 November, 2003, 01:33 GMT US 'wants Iraq council scrapped' By David Bamford BBC correspondent in Washington Reports from the United States suggest the Bush administration has become so frustrated with the Iraqi Governing Council, it may be looking to scrap it. The Iraqi Governing Council's days may be numbered The Washington Post newspaper quotes a senior US official as saying the administration has become alarmed at the IGC's failure to make important decisions. According to the paper, the US is actively looking for an alternative strategy. It has reportedly become frustrated by individual members on the US-appointed council who, officials say, spend all their time promoting private agendas rather than making important collective decisions. 'Potential to govern' But Richard Perle, a right-wing Pentagon adviser, said in a TV interview he would be recommending against making changes. "The Iraqi Governing Council consists of people who represent large elements of the Iraqi society," he said. "If we're impatient, we shouldn't be because they have the potential to govern the country and govern it effectively." Although the council does include figures from each of Iraq's Sunni, Shia and Kurdish groups, its members were handpicked by the Americans and there have been doubts about whether some represent anyone but themselves. New look The council was set up soon after Baghdad was taken, when many in the US assumed the transition to an elected government would be a matter of months. Now it is acknowledged by all sides this is untenable. Some like Senator Joe Biden think a fresh look now would provide a further chance of improved international co-operation. "I'd use that as the entree with the French to say we can work out an arrangement here," he said. One possibility being reconsidered, according to quoted US officials, is that of an interim sovereign body as in Afghanistan - a model that the French have been advocating in Iraq for some time. ----------------------------------- 2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1081610,00.html 'Shambolic' Iraqi council forcing US to think again Julian Borger in Washington Monday November 10, 2003 The Guardian The Iraqi governing council, set up by the US as a step towards self-rule, has proved be so ineffective and shambolic that Washington is beginning to consider alternatives, it was reported yesterday. Frustration with the council has been building for some time within the Bush administration, which selected the panel of Iraqi politicians in July and gave it until December 15 to come up with a plan for drawing up a constitution and holding elections. But progress has been minimal as only a handful of council members have been turning up regularly for meetings, and there has been little oversight of the new Iraqi cabinet ministers, who are supposed to be the council's responsibility. "It has not been a coherent council. Members are not aware of legislation passed in their names," said Laith Kubba, the president of the Iraqi National Group, a liberal democratic organisation that is not part of the council. "They are not aware of what ministers are doing. Although the council is made up of 25 members, there are only five main players and the rest are there in a very ineffective way." The Washington Post yesterday quoted US and French officials as saying that the administration was even considering the idea put forward by Paris and other UN security council members for an interim Iraqi leadership chosen by national conference - along the lines of the loya jirga held in Afghanistan. If such a system were chosen, the US would reverse the order of the transition, handing sovereignty to the provisional government before a constitution was written and an election held. This suggestion had been rejected by Washington, but it is beginning to look more inviting as the US death toll rises amid the clashes in Iraq, and there is now a greater urgency to withdraw US forces in time for next November's presidential elections. "If our exit is going to take longer, if it looks like it could go more than two years to get it all done, then there's an incentive to look into a transitional phase and some other governing mechanism," a state department official said. Mr Kubba suggested that the leaks to the Washington Post were more likely meant to focus the minds of the council than to be a concrete plan of action. "The frustration has been there for some time so I am not surprised by it," Mr Kubba said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I would be surprised if they tried to complicate their difficult situation at the moment by upsetting the governing council." Robert Blackwill, an official from the national security council, who was given the job of coordinating the political transition, is reported to have begun an unannounced visit to Iraq at the weekend, reportedly to try to put pressure on the council members and discuss alternatives with the head of the occupation authority, Paul Bremer. The Iraqi governing council was intended to represent Iraq's ethnic diversity, and includes Shias, Sunnis, Kurds and a representative of the Turkoman community. It included three women, but one, Aqila al-Hashimi, was assassinated in September. Most of the prominent Sunnis on the council are former exiles, and Mr Kubba said the council should be expanded to include more representatives from the provinces and the main Sunni tribes, which he said had been marginalised by the occupation authorities. Those groups would have to be convinced that they would wield real - rather than symbolic - power. ------------------- 3) http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/8E30FECC-80DC-4079-AF7B-AD6C4953CDB1.htm US tiring of Iraq council - report Sunday 09 November 2003, 14:49 Makka Time, 11:49 GMT The Bush administration is losing patience with the self-interest and sluggishness of Iraq's Governing Council and is considering finding an alternative, a paper reported on Sunday. US officials think members of the US-appointed IGC, under interim president Jalal Talabani, are too focused on their own interests and moving too slowly to draft a new constitution - a US prerequisite for a power handover - the Washington Post said, citing senior US officials. "We're unhappy with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we need to get moving," a US official quoted by the paper said. The Post said Robert Blackwill, an official on the White House National Security Council overseeing Iraq's political transition, was embarking on an unannounced trip to Iraq this weekend to underscore US concerns. Blackwill would discuss possible alternatives with Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq. A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, which has so far tried to boost the credibility of the council, refused to comment on the report when contacted by Aljazeera.net. Pressure The United States is under international pressure to transfer power to Iraqis as soon as possible, as it searches for ways to stabilise the nation and bring its troops home. US and French officials said the United States was considering a French proposal, rejected earlier, to create an interim Iraqi leadership similar to the government formed in postwar Afghanistan, according to the paper. "The council is trying its best. You have to remember we are 24 personalities. We have never worked together. There is no precedent for what we are doing" Muwafaq Rabiyi, Iraqi Governing Council member Officials quoted by the paper indicated, however, that the United States was still focused on working with the council in an effort to meet a 15 December deadline set by the United Nations for laying out a timetable and programme for drafting a constitution and holding elections. "There's no sword yet over their heads," one official told the paper. Still, the paper also said US officials were exploring the possibility of creating a provisional authority to govern until a new constitution was written and elections held, which would mark a departure from Washington's position that a new constitution was needed before power would be turned over. "If our exit is going to take longer, if it looks like it could go more than two years to get it all done, then there's an incentive to look into a transitional phase and some other governing mechanism," the paper quoted a US State Department official as saying. Patience required Adil Abd al-Mahdi, a council member from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, told the paper that the US would have to be patient. "Figuring out how to write the constitution is the most important thing we will do. We have to make sure we take the time to do this right," he said. Another council member said that the council was breaking new ground. "The council is trying its best. You have to remember we are 24 personalities," said Muwafaq Rabiyi, a Shia physician and former exile in Britain. "We have never worked together. There is no precedent for what we are doing." Reuters --------------- 4) http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/09/1068329422664.html Ineffective Iraqi council angers its US backers By Robin Wright in Washington,Rajiv Chandrasekaran in Baghdad November 10, 2003 Increasingly alarmed by the failure of the Iraqi Governing Council to take decisive action, the Bush Administration is developing possible alternatives to the council to ensure that the US can turn over political power at the same time as troops are withdrawn. Officials say the US is frustrated by its hand-picked council members, who they say have spent more time on their own political or economic interests than in planning Iraq's political future, especially selecting a committee to write a new constitution. "We're unhappy with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we need to get moving," one well-placed US official said. "They just don't make decisions when they need to." Robert Blackwill, the new US National Security Council official overseeing Iraq's political transition, began an unannounced trip to Iraq at the weekend to meet local politicians to drive home that point. He is also discussing options with the American administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer. The US is even considering a French proposal, earlier rejected, to create an interim Iraqi leadership that would emulate the Afghan model, where President Hamid Karzai has governed while a new national charter is being developed. France and other Security Council members had proposed holding a national conference to select a provisional government that would have the rights of sovereignty. The US has insisted that a new constitution was the essential first step and elections the final phase in handing over power. But the Administration is now considering changing the order of the transition if it appears to be taking much longer than planned. "If our exit is going to take . . . more than two years . . . then there's an incentive to look into a transitional phase and some other governing mechanism," a State Department official said. The shift comes after repeated warnings to the governing council. Two weeks ago, Mr Bremer met council members and bluntly told them they could not go on as they were, a US official in Baghdad said. Mr Bremer complained that at least half the council is out of the country at any given time and only about four members show up at some meetings. Since the council appointed 25 cabinet ministers in late August, the body has done "nothing of substance", the official added. The US, which financially and politically backed several of the council members in exile, has also been disillusioned by the council's inability to communicate with the Iraqi public or gain greater legitimacy. As a result, the council has less credibility now than it did when it was appointed, further undermining Iraq's stability. US officials are still hoping that it can "stay the course, only faster", the official said. Iraqi council members counter that they should be given the powers of a provisional government - with rights of sovereignty - because they have no real powers to act as long as the Coalition Provisional Authority occupies and rules Iraq. A council member said that the US has an "unrealistic idea" that difficult issues can be sorted in a day or two. 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