This, he stressed, is due to the fact that the US dominates the Middle Eastern country.

Brahimi defended the new Iraqi government, which was sworn in on Tuesday, but admitted it would face an uphill struggle to earn legitimacy in the wake of its turbulent formation.

"The members of this government know and should not forget that they have not been elected," he said. "It will not be easy for them to prove the sceptics wrong."

Immense power

Brahimi said he had been invited to choose the new cabinet at the request of the Americans and the now-disbanded Governing Council, but as the governing power the view of the United States was certainly taken into consideration.

Iraqis cut a face-saving deal with
the US and UN on presidency 

He said that US overseer in Iraq, Ambassador Paul Bremer, had immense power. 

"I don't think he would mind my saying this: Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money, he has the signature," said Brahimi.

Positive picture

None the less, Brahimi expressed optimism about the future of the political process in Iraq.

The composition of the government was a result of negotiation and compromise, but he said the "overall picture is positive ... very much positive."

That assessment was shared by most countries. The European Union, through its Irish presidency, wished the government "every success" while Russia expressed hope that it would be able to ensure security and rebuild the country's shattered

"I don't think he would mind my saying this: Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money, he has the signature."

Lakhdar Brahimi,
UN envoy to Iraq

Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah and King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain welcomed Shaikh Ghazi al-Yawir's appointment as Iraq's interim president and said they hoped to strengthen ties with Iraq's new leadership.

King Abd Allah II of Jordan, in a congratulatory telegram to al-Yawir on Wednesday, said the government was "a step towards ending the occupation and the return of full sovereignty".