US unlikely to abandon Iraq council

The United States is unlikely to abandon the Iraqi Governing Council it created but may modify its political structure, a US official has said.

    The Iraqi governing council was handpicked by the US

    He spoke after top White House figures, frustrated by growing

    instability in Iraq and the council's performance, held a

    hastily convened meeting to discuss the situation in Iraq

    .

    Paul Bremer, Iraq's US occupation governer,

    returned abruptly to Washington

    on Tuesday for the meeting and was still at the White

    House late in the day.

    "When decisions need to be made, Bremer comes. Some

    decisions need to be made," one US official said.

    The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said

    there was no expectation Bremer would be leaving his post.

    Bremer friction 

    Bremer's return

    comes amid growing White House frustration with the

    Iraqi Governing Council, and what some officials

    say is increasing friction with Bremer himself.

    With a recent surge in attacks on US-led forces

    , Iraqis cooperating with them and international

    groups, Washington is seeking ways to reduce the US presence and transfer power to compliant Iraqis.

     

    Bremer is said to be reluctant to
    transfer powers to Iraqis swiftly 

    "It's a serious discussion," said a senior US official.

    "You have the December 15 (UN Security Council) deadline for

    the governing council to set out a timetable for drafting a

    constitution and holding elections.

    "The discussions are with

    that in mind, looking at the performance of the governing

    council," he said.

    Bremer left Baghdad for Washington on short notice and

    canceled a meeting on Tuesday with visiting Polish Prime

    Minister Leszek Miller.

    US-appointed council

    A senior administration official declined to provide

    details of any decisions that had been taken. Bremer is

    "working with the governing council," was all he would say.

    Also attending the meeting were Vice President Dick Cheney,

    Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald

    Rumsfeld.

    There have been media reports that

    the United States might abandon the council and establish a new

    structure to take over before

    elections are held.

    But one US official said: "Abandoning the Iraqi Governing

    Council is unlikely."

    He acknowledged problems with the council, including a

    rotating presidency, and said one change might be to provide

    more continuity in the leadership structure.

    Iraq has become a quagmire for
    US soldiers

    Democratic model

    "The focus here is on getting the Iraqis to take over more

    and more steadily according to the plan in UN Security

    Council resolution 1511," he said.

    "You don't do that by a radical change in course... That's

    not to say there shouldn't be mid-course corrections."

    President George Bush, speaking earlier to the Heritage

    Foundation think tank, stressed the US goal of establishing a

    democratic government in Iraq as a model for the Middle East.

    "Under our strategy, increasing authority is being

    transferred to the Iraqi people," he said.

    US officials have also been debating whether to

    reconstitute some units of the old Iraqi army to speed the

    buildup of indigenous security forces.

    Talking shop

    And officials said there was growing friction between

    Bremer and Washington over Bremer's resistance to accelerating

    the transfer of authority to Iraqis.

    The United States says the Iraqi Governing Council is the most broad-based government the country has ever known. 

    However, the council's has been derided by its many detractors as a US-appointed talking shop with no real power to make decisions.

    They say it exists primarily to serve the US’s objectives, and its members

    have been handpicked by the Americans rather than elected by Iraqis.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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