Iraqi politician: Bush wants to withdraw forces from Iraq prior to upcoming US presidential election
The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq described the statements released by Iraq’s civil administrator, Paul Bremer - in which he expected the general elections to be held in Iraq by mid 2004 - an important step. However, the council perceived such statements as more connected with the upcoming US presidential elections than the political situation and developments on the ground in Iraq.
Bremer announced Thursday that he expected national elections be held in Iraq by mid 2004. “It is certainly not unrealistic to think that we could have elections by mid-year 2004 after the new constitution is written and accepted by the Iraqis in a national referendum” announced Bremer at a press conference on Thursday.
The Council’ spokesman - Ali al Bayati - told Al Bawaba via telephone, “the statement by Bremer, who previously set the end of 2004 as a potential date for the elections in Iraq, is very important.” According to Bayati, he believes that Bremer’s move is not connected with the security and political situation in Iraq as much as it is connected to the upcoming US elections. “US president George Bush does not want the Iraqi issue to be used by his [Democrat] opponents as a campaign slogan against him,” said Bayati. “Bush wants to accelerate things to allow himself to withdraw US forces from Iraq prior to the elections,” he added.
American presence in Iraq is facing strong resentment and US forces have become targets of daily attacks by Iraqi resistance - a fact that has reflected itself in growing domestic pressure on the Bush administration.
Moreover, the high cost of the occupation - which now exceeds three billion US dollars monthly - and the failure by the US to secure acceptance from major international powers to participate in the military and peacekeeping efforts in Iraq has put even more strain on Washington.
As part of the review process, Washington called Bremer to Washington last week to discuss with him several arrangements that would help in the transfer of power to an independent and legitimate Iraqi government – one that would be recognized internationally. The new government is expected to assume responsibility for an army and police force, currently being formed to maintain security throughout the country.
News reports following Bremer’s arrival in Iraq alleged several new decisions could be taken by him, the most important of which is the expansion of the US appointed interim governing council to include representatives from parties and factions that are currently not included. This would aim at decreasing the level of opposition to the council’s resolutions and questions about its legitimacy.
Last month, Bremer’s administration appointed the interim governing council comprising 25 Iraqis, a move viewed by Washington as a first step towards Iraqi self-rule. The council members were selected from several political, religious and ethnic groups from Iraq and abroad (former opposition groups).
Among the tasks the council is responsible for is the appointment of the various ministers and the drafting of a new Iraqi constitution. Washington had announced that elections in Iraq will take place as soon as a new constitution is drafted and a new government is formed to assume power from the Coalition Provisional Authority. (Albawaba.com)
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