Why Iraq Governing Council failed
The US-appointed group may be sidelined in favor of a UN plan for a nonpolitical interim government.
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"Unfortunately, the Governing Council has failed to play a constructive role in fixing Iraq's deep and important problems,'' says Ayatollah Imad al-Deen Awadi, a Shiite cleric, who believes the unpopularity of the council has driven many Iraqis to religious figures for political leadership, like Shiite cleric Sadr, whose anti-US militia control the shrine city of Najaf.Skip to next paragraph
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"The people are suffering and they're worried about the flag," says an incredulous Wissam al-Ekabi, a student at Baghdad University. "The Governing Council is supposed to be fixing the security situation and creating jobs. But this seems to be all they're up to."
His friend, Alaa Muhammed, adds: "They clearly didn't talk to many Iraqi people about this. The flag is meaningless, just like the council."
Brahimi's growing influence over the transition process, as the US seeks to broaden international involvement here in response to failing support for occupation inside Iraq, has been deeply threatening to some members of the Governing Council, who have gone on the offensive against Brahimi in the hopes of preserving a role for themselves in the transition.
Leading the charge has been Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress (INC).
The former exile's political movement was funded for years by the US government, and he was originally slated by the Pentagon to run Iraq's postinvasion government. But his lack of evident domestic support forced that plan to be scrapped last April. And Mr. Chalabi has increasingly fallen out of favor with the US.
Chalabi told Fox News Sunday that Brahimi is "a controversial figure. He's not a unifying figure." Al-Mutamar newspaper, linked to Chalabi's INC, has grown increasingly strident in its attacks on Brahimi.
In a front-page opinion piece Wednesday, the paper accused Brahimi and Adnan Pachachi, a Governing Council member who has welcomed UN involvement, of "cooking up a plan" to deny a political role for legitimate Iraqi leaders so that they can form a government "from behind the curtains."
The paper also alleged that the marriage of a Brahimi sister to a member of Jordan's royal family has tainted his independence. Chalabi was convicted in absentia on embezzlement charges in Jordan in the early 1990s, and is still a wanted man in the kingdom.
"Politicians like Chalabi know that their best chance at power is maintaining their current, appointed positions,'' says an Iraqi political scientist who is advising Brahimi on the transition plan. "The moment they come up against free and fair elections, they're finished."
Brahimi says it needs to be recognized that no Iraqi government will be truly representative until elections are also so, and has urged that the transitional government refrain from locking Iraq into any policies that could fuel the country's internecine conflicts.
"The caretaker government also needs to be mindful, at all times, of the fact that it has not been democratically elected,'' he told the UN Security Council. "It should therefore [refrain] from entering into long-term commitments that can and should await decision by an elected government. There is no substitute for the legitimacy that comes from free and fair elections."