Thursday, June 03, 2004

Premature handover

Well, that's interesting. After forcing the UN to pick their candidate for both Prime Minister and President, the IGC promptly turned power over to the intirim government and dissolved itself. The "handover" has effectively happened four weeks early, making the diplomatic dance at the UN fairly academic. By making this move for themselves, the Iraqis have signalled that they will decide their relationship with the occupiers - not the UN, and not the US. And to kick things off, they're already demanding real power in their own country.

Somehow, I feel that this isn't quite what the Americans had in mind. The Independent is calling it "the day the stooges bit back", and it seems appropriate...

As for how much they can bite, it's an interesting question. 138,000 trigger-happy soldiers gives the US a practical veto on the interim government's activities. But OTOH, overthrowing the regime they've worked so hard to install would destroy what few shreds of credibility they have left. This gives the interim government a very long leash, and we'll probably see quite a bit of independence from them - maybe even the reversal of the US's economic "reforms" (designed to benefit American investors) and the cancellation of some of the more egregiously exploitative reconstruction contracts (ditto).

Here's another thought: having smashed the country into rubble and spent the reconstruction money on mercenaries and sweetheart deals for American companies, will the US now see this as an opportunity to walk away financially? "The occupation is officially over, so you're on your own"? It will be interesting to see if they live up to their obligations in Iraq - or abandon them.