Iraqi Transition Begins

WaPo — Iraqi Caretaker Government Takes Temporary Authority

A new caretaker government, carefully apportioned among Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups, assumed temporary authority from the Iraqi Governing Council Tuesday after a month of wrangling.

The U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council then dissolved itself, as planned. Before it did, however, it managed to get most, if not all, of its choices installed in office.

Ghazi Yawar, a U.S. educated tribal sheik and council member, was chosen as the president of the interim government after the U.S. favorite, Adnan Pachachi, turned down the job because he lacked support from authority members.

The interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, then proceeded to appoint the cabinet that will oversee the transition to what President Bush has called “full sovereignty” on June 30.

Ominously, an explosion and gunfire shook the Convention Center within the protected Coalition Provisional Authority Green Zone just after the announcement of the new president was made by U.N. representative Lakhdar Brahimi, who has been overseeing the selection process. American troops flooded the area and fighter jets streaked overhead.

There was no immediate confirmation as to what had happened or any details of casualties. Wire services reported an attack, with fatalities, on the headquarters of a Kurdish party near the entrance to the Green Zone.

“The people of Iraq will be praying . . . for the success of their mission,” said Brahimi, after a morning of rapid-fire developments.

Under the current plan, the caretaker government will convene an assembly of a thousand people next month. The assembly, in turn, will choose a national council of one hundred that will help oversee the government and exercise veto power over the cabinet council of ministers.

The process is ultimately designed to lead to an election and the formation of a permanent government for Iraq. Analysts universally believe that the caretaker government’s success will be determined in part by the extent to which the Iraqi people believe it to be legitimate rather than a U.S. tool. It is also likely to confront an intensification of violence during the transition, U.S. officials believe, that will severely test its stability.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.