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Iraq Handover Sans Sovereignty

by M.B. Naqvi

on "Handover" Of Iraq Sovereignty

(IPS) -- After the U.S. government's surprise early handover of purported sovereignty to Iraq, the government put together by the U.S. is supposed to be sovereign in Iraq. This strains credulity, however.

It is clear that 130,000 U.S. troops, along with other forces allied with the United States, will go on staying in Iraq even after Monday's transfer of power. They will however be under the command of a U.S. general. No one can foresee when the GIs will pack their bags and go home.

Far too many people around the globe suspect that the U.S. government did not take the plunge into Iraq's troubled waters only to walk out after meeting some popular resistance.

If the U.S. forces do keep their troops in Iraq indefinitely and do not allow any Iraqi to mess around with them, there is from the outset doubt about the status of the interim or provisional government under Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a former CIA asset.

What kind of sovereignty will it have if there are foreign armies in the country and under foreign command -- an arrangement it cannot change?

Moreover, Allawi has not only taken note of the upheaval being caused by 'some' foreign militants -- linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and al-Qaeda by extension -- and 'some' remnants of the old Baathist regime.

Nearly 100 Iraqis and a few U.S. nationals were killed on June 24 alone in five obviously coordinated attacks in five cities at virtually the same time and of a similar nature. These 'some people' appear to be very resourceful and bold. Most are ready to sacrifice their own lives.

Some 100 civilians are said to be killed every week in Iraq, many in common crimes.

Allawi does not use the term 'resistance' for the violence that has been happening in many cities of Iraq. Instead, they are suicide-prone 'militants' or remnants' of Saddam's Baath party.

But most people in what is the so-called Third World, and many in Europe, now freely acknowledge that a more or less spontaneous resistance comprising all sorts -- Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Islamic militants from nearby states, Baathists and special interest groups -- has taken shape.

The most remarkable development on the Iraqis' side has been the refusal of Iraqis to behave the way the U.S. experts had expected or maybe even banked on. Shiites and Sunnis have refused to come to blows. Indeed, there is growing unity among them.

Even the Kurds could not be worked up against Arabs despite the use, reportedly by the Israeli Mossad spy agency, of many tricks from the colonialists' book.

No western agency, not even Mossad or Britain's M16, has been able to penetrate this new resistance. All the major powers' undercover agencies must be striving hard to infiltrate it, but apparently none has succeeded in a year, although it is impossible to verify this in matters of this sort. That is mighty strange for an Arab country.

The Iraqis, of varied persuasions, offer a sharp contrast to what the United States, with its fabulous capabilities, are saying and doing.

The United States says it is offering sovereignty to the Iraqis and wants most Iraqis to come and help. But other than former U.S. administrator Paul Bremer's chosen few, ordinary Iraqis have shown no interest in this U.S. offer.

Although suicide bombings have become a virtually daily ritual on exposed targets like Iraqi police stations, and it is mostly Iraqis who die in them in large numbers, no one has betrayed the masterminds and organizational apparatus behind these. That shows the temper of both the common Iraqis and of the resistance.

One reason why common Iraqis are left cold by the U.S. rhetoric is its absurdity: Iraqis feel their intelligence is being insulted when told that they have been given back their sovereignty s if they are children being given a lollipop.

What has happened in Iraq is the destruction of a whole state. That an Iraqi state, with membership in the United Nations, exists is a legal fiction. That the United States occupies the country is a fact.

A foreign army has set up committees, ministries and departments for its convenient governance of occupied territories.

Just ask the question: Are the occupation armies of today under the control, command and direction of the new 'sovereign'? Obviously not. Indeed, no Iraqi shall have control over them. Some sovereignty!

U.S. officials have taken good care of how things will run after the June 28 handover. They have set up commissions virtually for each important ministry or department. These comprise foreign consultants, mainly from the United States.

They will be paid by the Iraqi Treasury, no doubt. But that treasury itself will not be under Iraqi control, and will continue to be managed by experts appointed by the United States.

In simpler words, Iraq will continue to be governed under U.S. tutelage and dictation through various commissions and committees or other arrangements already in place.

There is no chance of the new interim or provisional government being able to make any decision against the 'advice' of the various U.S.-appointed commissions, committees and consultants. So which sovereignty is being transferred to whom?

Who has Iraqi sovereignty today? In terms of the pre- 18th century theory of kings claiming sovereignty by divine right, it could be seized or taken if there was another king or general who was militarily stronger.

In this case, effective power and authority over the territory the Iraqi state used to prevail has been acquired by the victorious U.S. army. The latter, while retaining the bulk of this power and authority, has chosen to invest certain pliable Iraqi individuals with the illusion of authority, power and sovereignty.

So long as the U.S. army stays in Iraq under the command and control of U.S. president, the Allawi team will remain U.S creatures. There will be no transfer of sovereignty.

What happened on June 28 can be called a mere re-arrangement by the U.S. government in Iraq. It is in Washington's hope that in the name of an unreal transfer of sovereignty to its own nominees, the United States would then, with a straight face, be able to deny moral and political responsibility for what might then go on.

It would be a great public-relations sleight of hand if it were to succeed.

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Albion Monitor June 30, 2004 (

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