Transfer of sovereignty means little to Iraqis, troops

By Gus Bode

In the spirit of the open, democratic system we have brought to Iraq, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer handed over control of our newest colony’s government to a few of his favorite Iraqis Monday in a highly secretive, hastily arranged ceremony. After the five-minute ceremony, Bremer quickly fled the country aboard a U.S. cargo plane.

You can’t really blame Bremer for getting out of Iraq as soon as he could. He knows the only real change the “transfer of sovereignty” brings is that he can sleep in his own bed tonight.

American troops and innocent Iraqi citizens, on the other hand, will continue to die every day, no matter which hand-picked Iraqi is the public face of the occupation.


Our current puppet-in-chief, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, is a choice that makes Ahmed Chalabi, our former best friend and everyone’s favorite Iranian double agent, look like George Washington.

According to former U.S. intelligence officers interviewed by the New York Times, the Iraqi National Accord Movement, a group funded by the CIA and headed by Allawi, participated in car bombings and other acts of terrorism in the 1990s. Not only is Allawi a former U.S.-financed terrorist, he also has much closer ties to Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party than Osama bin Laden ever dreamt of.

To the Bush administration, this makes him the perfect man to lead Iraq on a path toward democracy and human rights. After all, he may be a terrorist, but he’s our terrorist.

In a sign of things to come, one of Allawi’s first official acts is expected to be the imposition of martial law, which, as everyone knows, is an essential element of any successful democracy.

Of course, Allawi actually has no control over Iraq. With the country on the verge of civil war and with a dearth of properly trained and equipped police officers in the country, the only real power is in the hands of various Iraqi militias and the more than 130,000 American troops who are still in the country and who, unlike Bremer, will be there for a long time to come. A secret ceremony in Baghdad is not going to change that.

In spite of all the flowery platitudes coming from the Bush administration about a “free and democratic Iraq,” the transfer of power has much more to do with American politics than Iraqi politics.

The Bush administration set the June 30 date for the transfer of power months ago, based not upon any progress being made on the ground in Iraq, but rather on the election-year calendar here in the United States.


Even with circumstances in Iraq continuing to spin out of control, Karl Rove is betting that four months will be enough time for Iraq to fade from the collective consciousness of the notoriously short-attention-spanned American media and public.

But don’t expect Iraqis to suddenly lay down their arms and embrace their new “leadership.”

Iraqis will be able to see there are still 130,000 American troops in the country. They will know we are building the world’s largest embassy and 14 permanent military bases in their country and they will realize they can’t change the fact that American corporations with close ties to the Bush administration are still making billions of dollars by charging up to 10 times more than Iraqi firms.

Americans may not be paying much attention to what is happening in Iraq come November, but you can bet that Iraqis will.

Jesse is a senior in journalism. Divided We Stand appears every other Thursday. These views do not necessarily reflect those of the DAILY EGYPTIAN.