Representatives of the major political, ethnic and religious groups of Iraq - some of them skilled politicians, some of them exile leaders coming home and others political neophytes united by their suffering under Saddam Hussein - will declare the first postwar interim government in Iraq this weekend, Western and Iraqi officials said tonight.
After eight weeks of negotiations with the American and British occupation powers, a "governing council" of between 21 and 25 members will be granted extensive executive powers. The new body of Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Turkmen will share responsibility for running the country under a United Nations resolution that will continue to vest Washington and London with ultimate authority until a sovereign government is elected and a new constitution ratified, the officials said.
There is no clear timetable for a transition to an elected government.
Retiring Gen. Tommy Franks capped two days of testimony before key congressional committees in which he and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld offered their starkest assessments yet of the length and scope of the U.S. commitment in Iraq - a commitment the Pentagon had predicted before the war would be sharply decreasing by now.
Franks said U.S. troops would stay in Iraq as long as it takes to allow Iraqis to create a government and take over control of the nation from a U.S.-led administrator. "I don't know whether that means two years or four years. I just don't know," Franks said before the House Armed Services Committee.
"People in my district want to know the exit strategy," said Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., "Getting answers from the administration is part of our job."
Critics of the administration's troop proposal rallied around [a proposal to protest American troops in Kosovo] by Rep. Tillie Fowler, R-Fla.
"It is not within our power to solve all the world's problems," she said.
The war isn't over when Saddam is gone and the major fighting stops. There is a very high probability that the world faces years of tension and uncertainty as the internal future of Iraq is decided, and as it establishes new relations with the West and the nations around it. Put differently, the hope for quick post-war stability is probably futile. So is the idea winning in Iraq will bring broader stability or "democracy" to the Gulf or Middle East.
One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.
Best New Blog finalist - 2003 Koufax Awards
A non-violent, counter-dominant, left-liberal, possibly charismatic, quasi anarcho-libertarian Quaker's take on politics, volleyball, and other esoterica.
Lo alecha ha-m'lacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin l'hibateyl mimenah.