Special Council

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.




This past week, while anti-American forces continued to make life difficult for the U.S. in Iraq, France’s Jacques Chirac called again for a rapid switch to Iraqi self-governance, and Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi Governing Council (I.G.C.), swung by the United Nations to make the case for more Iraqi control of their country. President Bush told the U.N. that he’s in no rush to hand over power to the Iraqis. But even if he was, is the I.G.C. ready to take on more authority in the midst of Iraq’s chaos? And would Iraqis accept it?

The American-appointed 25-person council is just over two months old, and has been at the center of many critiques of Bush’s elusive post-war plan in Iraq. Criticisms range from, “it’s a useless, undemocratic, puppet organization,” to “it’s Iraq’s only hope but its mandate is too limited.” The Middle East Report Online has an extensive report on what the I.G.C. can and can’t do.

E.A. Khammas, the co-director of the Baghdad Occupation Watch Center and author Rahul Mahajan, of the newly formed website Occupation Watch, argue that the core problem with the governing council lies in its undemocratic origins. Their group has carried out a number of interviews with Iraq’s leading intellectuals and politicians, and published their findings in an op-ed for Middle East Online. Those interviewed feel that the Iraqi Governing Council has been handed an impossible task by the Americans. Professor Wisal al-Azzawi, dean of the College of Political Sciences of Nehrein University, wonders why the Americans didn’t consult Iraq’s leading professionals.

“Why didn’t they ask our opinion? What role was there for scientists, technocrats, intellectuals businessmen, unions? Because of the way it was secretly appointed, the Council appears very much an American product imposed on the Iraqi people…The democratic process does not happen in a day or two, and should not be connected to a handful of people who collaborated with the occupation.”

This kind of distrust is pretty typical in Khammas and Mahajan’s piece, and the authors ultimately recommend that the American authorities spend more time consulting with people like the professor.

It didn’t help the I.G.C.’s image with Arabs that the U.S. occupation authorities recently decided to bar Arab satellite TV stations Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from riling the Arab world by spreading “poison” in their coverage of I.G.C. activities over the next two weeks.

It seems that the I.G.C. has few fans these days, particularly in the Middle East. However, Amir Taheri, of Gulf News thinks that those who find the council problematic are just whining about the loss of their beloved Saddam.

Clearly, this is a debate that will run and run. Less clear is whether the council will ever be more than symbolic, or whether it will ever be fully accepted by Iraqis.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate