US agrees to Int'l control of its troops in Iraq

US agrees to Int'l control of its troops in Iraq
Mon Nov 17 02:32:25 2003

US agrees to international control of its troops in Iraq
By Leonard Doyle and Stephen Castle in Brussels

[The Independent - 17 November 2003]: The United States accepts that to avoid humiliating failure in Iraq it needs to bring its forces quickly under international control and speed the handover of power, Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, has said. Decisions along these lines will be made in the "coming days", Mr Solana told The Independent.

The comments, signalling a major policy shift by the US, precede President George Bush's state visit this week to London, during which he and Tony Blair will discuss an exit strategy for forces in Iraq.

Mr Solana underlined the change of mood in Washington, saying: "Everybody has moved, including the United States, because the United States has a real problem and when you have a real problem you need help." There is a "growing consensus" that the transfer of power has to be accelerated, he said. "How fast can it be done? I would say the faster the better."

He added: "The more the international community is incorporated under the international organisations [the better]. That is the lesson I think everyone is learning. Our American friends are learning that. We will see in the coming days decisions along these lines."

The Bush administration spelt out over the weekend its new plans for the faster transfer of power from Americans to the Iraqis, with a transitional government now scheduled to take over from the end of June. Before, US officials had said that Iraqi leaders should write a constitution first, then hold elections.

As the EU's foreign policy representative, Mr Solana has been playing a significant, behind-the-scenes role. Until now, the US had resisted putting the allied forces under international auspices, although there is growing support in Washington for a Nato role.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, arrives in Brussels tonight for talks with EU ministers, which he will combine with a meeting with the retiring Nato secretary general, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. Diplomats say that Mr Powell is expected to "test the water" about the involvement of the transatlantic alliance in Iraq. The litany of setbacks, growing US casualties and the recent killing of 18 Italian servicemen has brought intense domestic and international pressure on the Bush administration to give the occupying force more legitimacy.

Eager to counter this domestic unease, the American military sought to advertise their latest crack-down. They declared that they had fired a satellite-guided missile at what they said was an insurgents' training camp west of Kirkuk.

But there was more grim news on Saturday with the collision of two Black Hawk helicopters after one was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Seventeen American soldiers died, the worst single loss of life in one incident since President Bush ordered the US-led invasion.

He insisted yesterday that the US would not "cut and run". In an interview with Breakfast with Frost on BBC1, the President said the United States would not spend "years and years" in Iraq. But he rejected as "not a fair comment" claims that the US was unprepared for winning peace. Mounting violence in Iraq was "nothing more than a power grab". He added: "There are some foreign fighters, mujahedin types or al-Qa'ida, or al-Qa'ida affiliates involved, as well."

America's chief post-war administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, also suggested that US-led forces would remain on a different basis. "Our presence here will change from an occupation to an invited presence," he said. "I'm sure the Iraqi government is going to want to have coalition forces here for its own security for some time.

There have been no specifics yet about how the international community would control the mainly American and British forces in Iraq. Nato remains the only strong possibility because it would provide international credibility while leaving control with a military organisation which Washington dominates.

Nato has already proved its willingness to act outside its traditional sphere of operations by taking a role in Afghanistan. But to allow it to deploy in Iraq would mean getting the approval of all 19 Nato allies including France, Germany and Belgium, all staunch opponents of the war.

They would need to be satisfiedthat the UN had been given a sufficient role in the political control of Iraq. Diplomats say that the US and Britain will need to be certain that no one will block an Iraq mission before they make a request.

With the US-led occupation likely to be declared over the next year, Mr Bremer said that work would start on a constitutional settlement. "We'll have a bill of rights. We'll recognise equality for all citizens. We'll recognise an independent judiciary. We'll talk about a federal government," he said.

Mr Bremer explained that the Americans would work with the Iraqi Governing Council in writing the interim constitution. There would also be a side agreement dealing with security and the presence of American and coalition forces in Iraq, he said.

Al-Qa'ida claimed responsibility for the bombings of two Istanbul synagogues which killed at least 23 people and vowed further attacks, the London-based Arab newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi said yesterday.
U.S. on the Run?
Yet more troops secretly going both to Iraq and Korea
Exit Iraq... Enter ?

"The United States accepts that to avoid humiliating failure in
Iraq it needs to bring its forces quickly under international
control and speed the handover of power.... Decisions along
these lines will be made in the 'coming days' ."

"Yet thousands more reserverists are in fact being quietly
mobilized and shipped out this week. And
special secrecy orders seem to apply for those
being told they are going west across the Pacific."

"CHICKEN GEORGE" screams the DAILY MIRROR: "George Bush was branded chicken for scrapping his speech to parliament because he feared being heckled by anti-war MPs."

"FORTRESS LONDON AS RING OF STEEL SURROUNDS BUSH" fronts the DAILY MAIL: "A ring of steel will be thrown around central London this week amid fears of a possible suicide bomb attack to coincide with the state visit by George Bush."

'BIGGEST' TERRORIST ALERT FOR BUSH VISIT leads the TELEGRAPH: "Scotland Yard will mount the largest anti-terrorist operation London has ever seen when President George W Bush arrives tomorrow for the first State Visit by an American president."

MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 17 November 2003: The US is feeling the pressure; as well as spilling the blood. Just before President Bush heads to London, the most unwelcome American President ever to visit, American pro-consul Paul Bremer rushed onto the Sunday talk-shows to announce his departure by June and a whole new plan for Iraq. Bremer was quickly followed by European foreign policy chief Javier Solana, a man known to be close to the Americans, with this clearly orchestrate story suggesting, but not detailing, that the Americans really do want European and international help after all...and more importantly are willing to pay the price.
Is it fair to say the Americans are on the run? Not so fast!
First of all the Americans are now rather well-known for their crafty twists and turns...should we say tricks? So let's just wait and see what they do, not what they say.
Second, the Israelis are a wild card here, and Ariel Sharon is not the kind to roll over. There are many indications the Israelis themselves are having a major debate whether and how to escalate to regional war and 'take care of' Syria, Iran, Hezbollah...not to mention what's left of the Palestinian resistance. And oh yes, the Israeli-Jewish lobby -- never more powerful in Washington than now...never more dangerous when a little cornered and afraid.
And third, at the same time that all the rest is taking place and at quite a pace, Washington rumor mill has it that non-routine semi-secret troop movements are also escalating...with thousands more fresh troops being rushed to Iraq AND troops, ships and planes leaving from the west coast to reinforce American forces in Japan and Korea. More reserverists are in fact being quietly mobilized and shipped out this week. And special secrecy orders seem to apply for those being told they are going west across the Pacific.

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