Garner arrives in Baghdad; Tehran calls him Israel's agent in Iraq
Retired U.S. General Jay Garner, who is overseeing Iraq's reconstruction after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime, arrived in the Iraqi capital Monday. He was met by military officials after a one hour 45 minute flight from Kuwait.
"What better day in your life can you have than to be able to help somebody else, to help other people, and that is what we intend to do," Garner said after arriving at Baghdad airport from Kuwait.
Garner said his priority was to restore basic services such as water and electricity "as soon as we can," and acknowledged that the job would take intense work. "Everything is the challenge," he said.
Garner said he aimed to get the job done and leave as soon as possible, but declined to give a timeframe. "We will be here as long as it takes. We will leave fairly rapidly," he said.
In Baghdad, Garner intends to visit a primary water treatment plant, a main power plant and the Yarmuk hospital. Garner heads the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, which was established to help rebuild Iraq and prepare for an eventual interim government made up of Iraqis.
Garner was accompanied by his British deputy, Tim Cross. His initial team of 19 civilian administrators is to grow to some 450 over the next week.
Garner will report to U.S. General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Garner last week went to the southern city of Nasiriyah for a meeting with opposition figures, but the Baghdad visit was his first to the capital since U.S. forces took the city.
Meanwhile, Iran has called Garner Israel's agent in Iraq.
The news network Khabar quoted on Monday Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying that the Iraqi administration should be composed of representatives elected by the Iraqi people and not by a retired American military man who is an agent or at least very close to the "Zionist regime" (Israel).
The network said one of the main aims of the Garner team is to strengthen the status of Israel in the Middle East and provide the Jewish state with cheap oil from the Kirkuk and Mosul refineries in northern Iraq. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)