News leaks from Washington, and published in the New York Times (October 11, 2002) indicated that the U.S. military is preparing for a lengthy occupation of Iraq, with a U.S. military commander running the country.
New York Times writers David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt claim that
“Iraq would be governed by an American military commander – perhaps Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of United States forces in the Persian Gulf, or one of his subordinates – who would assume the role that Gen. Douglas MacArthur served in Japan after its surrender in 1945.”
The plan, if executed, would ensure that:
The Iraqi Army will be significantly downsized
The U.S. oversee Iraq’s oil fields and oil and gas production
The U.N. Oil-for-Food program is expanded to pay for the occupation of Iraq
A war crimes court is established to prosecute members of the Baath Party and senior commanders who follow Iraqi President Saddam
The plan for a U.S. military commander of Iraq is being received with dismay by U.S. allies, including the Iraqi opposition.
In recent months, the Iraqi opposition have supported all U.S. efforts to dislodge Saddam, but the new plan would effectively bar them from any influence or political parlay in post-war Iraq.
A disgruntled Sharif Ali, alleged distant relative of Iraq’s last king, seemed perplexed as the BBC asked him what he thought of the new occupation plan. He hesitated, seeming surprised by the question and said:
“We would like to see provisional Iraqi government in place and not a military occupation”.
Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress opposition party in exile, also appeared on MSNBC’s Countdown: Iraq show. Visibly irritated, he tried to change the focus of the discussion from the potential for a U.S. military occupation of Iraq to the need for a provisional government, without U.S. military governance.
“It will take us about 18 months to two years to draw up a constitution after which we will hold elections based on that constitution.”
Political analysts have admitted that Iraqi opposition groups are apparently feeling ‘shafted’.
“This is not what we were told. They can’t do that. The Iraqi people will not accept it and nobody else in the region will,” Hamid al-Bayati, a representative of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a leading Shiite-led opposition group, told the Associated Press Friday.
Political and military analysts in North America, however, believe this plan is as foolhardy as it is impractical.
Henry Kissinger stated last week that he is
“viscerally opposed to a prolonged occupation of a Muslim country at the heart of the Muslim world by Western nations who proclaim the right to re-educate that country.“
An Arab League source called the U.S. occupation plan “simplistic” and “entirely laughable”.
The new plan also does nothing to allay Arab, Russian, and European fears that this war has nothing to do with freeing the Iraqi people, and everything to do with securing Iraq’s high-grade, easily exploited oil and gas reserves.
Firas Al-Atraqchi is a Muslim Canadian journalist living on the Pacific Coast.