Increasingly alarmed by the failure of Iraq's Governing Council to take decisive
action, the Bush administration is developing possible alternatives to the council
to ensure that the United States can turn over political power at the same time
and pace that troops are withdrawn, according to senior US officials in Washington
and in Baghdad.
The United States is deeply frustrated with its hand-picked
council members because they have spent more time on their own political or economic
interests than in planning for Iraq's political future, especially selecting a
committee to write a new constitution, the officials added.
with all of them. They're not acting as a legislative or governing body, and we
need to get moving," said a well-placed US official who spoke on the condition
Ambassador Robert Blackwill, the new National Security Council
official overseeing Iraq's political transition, begins an unannounced trip this
weekend to Iraq to meet with Iraqi politicians to drive home that point.
United States is even considering a French proposal, earlier rejected, to hold
a national conference -- like the Loya Jirga used in Afghanistan -- to select
a provisional government that would have the rights of sovereignty.
options, the administration is also considering changing the order of the transition
if it looks as though it could drag on longer than planned. The United States
has long insisted that a new constitution was the essential first step and elections
the final phase in handing over power.
But now US officials are exploring the
possibility, again backed by other Security Council members, of creating a provisional
government with effective sovereignty to govern until a new constitution is written
and elections held. This is again similar to Afghanistan, where President Hamid
Karzai has governed while a new national charter is written.
Two weeks ago,
Bremer met with the council and bluntly told members that they "can't go on like
this," a senior US official in Baghdad said. Bremer noted that at least half the
council is out of the country at any given time and that at some meetings, only
four or five members show up. Since the council appointed 25 Cabinet ministers
in August, the body has done "nothing of substance," the US official in Baghdad
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