Iraqi opposition prepares for post-Saddam regime
Iraqi opposition representatives concluded two days of preparations for a future conference where experts are expected to draft a program for "a better Iraq under a different government," a US State Department official said Wednesday.
The meeting reviewed procedural aspects of the broader conference, which is likely to be held in coming months at an as-yet undetermined location, the State Department source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The purpose (of the planning is for) is an experts' conference, a broad gathering, to discuss the practical steps for a better Iraq under a different government. It is not an opposition conference, but an experts' conference," said the source, according to AFP.
The meeting was sponsored by the State Department, whose representative was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Near East Affairs Ryan Crocker. It was organized by the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based think tank represented by David Mack, former deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs.
A participant told AFP that the nine Iraqi groups who intended to send a representative were the US-backed Iraqi National Congress, the National Accord Movement, the two main Kurdish factions - Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party - in addition to a pro-monarchy group and independents.
The main Iraqi Islamist opposition group, the Tehran-based Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, had earlier declined to send a delegate to the US capital.
The proposed broad-based opposition conference will be "more technical than political," the Iraqi source conveyed.
On March 26, State Department officials said that Washington would spend five million dollars to fund the conference, which would focus on issues such as a post-Saddam Hussein justice system, public health and education, eliminating corruption, the role of the Iraqi military and rebuilding the economy. However, the conference will not attempt to decide upon a post-Saddam leadership.
It should be noted that a final decision on the venue hinges on consent from the host country.
The United States has threatened to take military action against Iraq and try to topple Saddam Hussein unless Baghdad readmits UN arms inspectors to check that it no longer has weapons of mass destruction. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)