Insider's Assessment of Iraq's New Interim Prime Minister and President
J. Sean Curtin (GLOCOM, Fellow and Asia Times)
Sir Jeremy Greenstock was the former number-two man in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) that ran occupied Iraq. He worked closely with US chief administrator Paul Bremer. Sir Jeremy gives a fairly frank assessment of Iraq's new interim prime minister and president.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock GCMG (UK Special Representative for Iraq, 2003-March 2004; former UK Permanent Representative to the UN, 1998-2003)
The new Iraqi government will come into being with formal executive authority under Iraqi sovereignty. It is a government which has been constructed with some care and I would say some positive features.
First of all Sheikh Ghazi [Ujail Al-Yawer] as President and…Iyad Allawi as Prime Minister came out of the selection process involving the coalition. The Americans obviously were in the lead, but also the UN Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi [special representative of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan] played a very strong role in choosing the full range of government ministers.
[The new government] came out of this process with a certain twist in the tale from the [Iraqi] Governing Council (IGC). The twist in the tale is that the early favourites for selection Adnan Pachachi for President and [Dr Hussain] al-Shahristani, the colleague of [the moderate Shi'ite leader Grand] Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for Prime Minister both of whom refused the challenge for what they saw in it personally I suppose.
Therefore out of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in consultation with the coalition – so that it wasn't against the recommendations of say the Americans – but outside the election process came perhaps the two members who were the most independent-minded and who were the most regularly absent from the council of the Governing Council during the months that I was there.
Sheikh Ghazi [Ujail Al-Yawer] is a businessman, exile [who lived in Saudi Arabia] and a member of the Samara tribe who is not particularly recognize by the Samara as their leader, [there are] other senior Sheikhs they do recognize.
Iyad Allawi who was an exile in the West…did not have a particularly powerful political base. [In fact,] doesn't have a powerful political base inside Iraq with the Iraqi National Accord (INA) an offshoot from [Ahmed] Chalabi's INC [Iraqi National Congress]. [Chalabi was the former darling of the neo-conservative hawks associated with Vice-President Dick Cheney and Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.] Allawi has a very good understanding particularly of the security needs of Iraq. He has particular reasons to remember with deep distaste the previous regime that tried to hack him to death in London [In 1978, Dr. Allawi survived an assassination allegedly ordered by Saddam Hussein]. [Dr. Allawi has] a competence and I would say integrity that will do the new government good.
Neither of them are puppets, neither of them will be bullied by any outsiders, both of them will have a struggle to create a competent government. But there are Cabinet ministers, mostly technocrats, with considerable ability. Iraq can produce people of considerable ability who have a chance of running a seven-month government. I think and I hope with a certain amount of administrative capacity.
I suppose of the 26 main ministers and five or six deputy ministers only two are former members of the [Iraqi] Governing Council (IGC). The Governing Council has disbanded itself, another good positive move to indicate that this is a government for Iraqis and not for or from outsiders.
The [UN] resolution in New York that went with that was 1546. [It] is a good resolution with some concessions on both sides. It lays the basis for full and unanimous authority for the new government and it is arranged under the transitional law, not mentioned in the resolution at the request of [Grand] Ayatollah al-Sistani, but is nevertheless present as a good law in the background.
The resolution sets the mandate for the United Nations in the coming period if the [UN] Secretary General decides that the circumstances are right to take up that mandate – a big if.
Profile: Dr. Iyad Allawi – Iraq's new interim Prime Minister
Born 1945 to a Shia merchant family, he studied to be a neurologist in the United Kingdom. He joined the Baath Party, but quit after opposing Saddam Hussein in the 1970s. He fled Iraq for exile in the UK where in 1978 he barely survived a horrific assassination attempt believed to have been ordered by Saddam Hussein himself. He continued his opposition to Saddam's brutal regime and became a founding member of the Iraqi National Accord (INA). The INA brought together Iraqi exiles including many former military officers. It was backed by both the US and UK intelligence services.
Profile: Sheikh Ghazi Ujail Al-Yawer – Iraq's new interim President
Sheikh Ghazi Yawer is the 45-year-old new interim President of Iraq. He studied engineering at Georgetown University in Washington, and spent many years in exile in Saudi Arabia where he ran a telecommunications company. He is a prominent tribal leader from the northern city of Mosul, often appearing in public wearing tradition Arab dress. He enjoys wide support from various ethnic and religious groups. He has strong ties to Washington, but has recently been highly critical of the US-led coalition.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock described Sheikh Ghazi Yawer by saying, "This guy is a pragmatist and a realist. He knows where his bread is buttered in the Iraqi public and he knows where Iraq's bread is buttered in terms of partnership with the Americans over this next period. He will play quite cleverly to both."
The above comments were made at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London on 24 June 2004
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