MI6 Links is New Prime Minister
A former Iraqi opposition leader believed to
have close links with MI6 and other Western intelligence agencies was
yesterday named as Iraq's new interim Prime Minister.
Allawi will head an interim Iraqi government that will take power on 30
June, when the United States-led occupation forces plan to hand over
sovereignty, and is set to take Iraq to elections scheduled for next year.
It will be Dr Allawi's job to head an interim administration that is
supposed to convince Iraqis, and the outside world, that the occupation is
over even as thousands of American soldiers remain on Iraqi soil. The Bush
administration is facing accusations that the handover is cosmetic -
designed to make it appear the occupation is over ahead of November's US
presidential elections. Washington has made it clear it has every intention
of keeping its forces in Iraq, and wants them to remain under American
command and be outside the jurisdiction of the interim government.
Dr Allawi will face the delicate task of negotiating with American
commanders on the status of forces who will in all likelihood be out of his
government's control. If he is to be successful, he will have to convince
sceptical Iraqis that his interim government has some real sovereignty.
In a surprise development, Dr Allawi was named as the new prime minister
not by the United Nations' envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who has been holding
talks on nominating the new government, but by the outgoing Iraqi Governing
There was confusion as the Americans initially announced the council's
nomination only amounted to suggesting a possible candidate for the job, and
that the final decision would still be Mr Brahimi's. But Mr Brahimi's
spokesman said last night he never intended to nominate the prime minister
"Mr Brahimi welcomes the decision to nominate Dr Allawi," Ahmad Fawzi,
his spokesman, said. "We were not invited to appoint the government. Now
that it has been identified, we welcome the choice.
"We will be working with the prime minister-designate to appoint a
cabinet, two vice-presidents and a president."
The decision to let the council nominate the prime minister may backfire:
the IGC, which was set up by the US to give a veneer of Iraqi involvement in
the occupation administration, has proved highly unpopular, with its members
denounced as collaborators. Dr Allawi is a member of the council.
It emerged yesterday that the son of another council member and two
Japanese journalists had been killed in two separate ambushes in the Sunni
town of Mahmudiya.
Salama al-Khafaji, one of three women on the governing council, was
attacked as she was returning from Najaf on Thursday where she was involved
in negotiations to end fighting between US forces and the militia of the
radical Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr. Her 18-year-old son went missing in the
attack. His body was recovered yesterday. At least one bodyguard also died
in the attack. Ms Khafaji said she was attacked by Saddam loyalists, but
there was a claim of responsibility on an Islamist website in the name of a
group believed to be led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an ally of Osama bin Laden
who is in Iraq.
Two Japanese freelance journalists went missing in a separate ambush in
Mahmudiya on Thursday. Their bodies were recovered in the town yesterday.
They had presumably been returning from Najaf. The only road linking the
city to Baghdad runs through Mahmudiya.
source: Independent -
29 May, 2004