Saturday, April 5
US begins the process of 'regime change'
Ed Vulliamy in New York and Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, April 6, 2003
The US is ready to install the first leg of an interim government for the new Iraq as early as Tuesday, even while fighting still rages in Baghdad, officials said yesterday.
America's readiness to establish the first stages of a civil administration to run post-war Iraq comes at lightning speed and constitutes a rebuff to European ambitions to stall on the process until some kind of role for the United Nations is agreed.
It was reported yesterday that the National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has also ruled out any key role for the UN.
The decision to proceed with an embryonic government comes in response to memoranda written by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week, urging that the US begin to entrench its authority in areas under its control before the war is over.
Pentagon officials told The Observer that the administration is determined to impose the Rumsfeld plan and sees no use for a UN role, describing the international body as 'irrelevant'.
The proposal is due to be discussed by George Bush and his closest security officials when he returns from this week's Northern Ireland war council with Tony Blair.
But according to US offi cials in Doha, elements of an embryonic new government will be established in the southern port of Umm Qasr, taken by coalition forces during the first days of the war.
It will be installed by the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, under the former US army Lieutenant General Jay Garner, and answerable to the Pentagon.
'What we are going to start trying to do, even before the fighting is over in Iraq, is to move to the areas in Iraq that are relatively peaceful, places like Umm Qasr, and to start moving [the office of reconstruction] into Iraq,' the official said. [...]