Monday, May 17, 2004

Iraq by Proxy 

From Saturday's Wall Street Journal:
Behind the Scenes, U.S. Tightens Grip On Iraq's Future

Or 'How Iraq Came To Be Ruled By A Brutal Dictator The First Time Around'.

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Haider al-Abadi runs Iraq's Ministry of Communications, but he no longer calls the shots there.

Instead, the authority to license Iraq's television stations, sanction newspapers and regulate cellphone companies was recently transferred to a commission whose members were selected by Washington. The commissioners' five-year terms stretch far beyond the planned 18-month tenure of the interim Iraqi government that will assume sovereignty on June 30.

The transfer surprised Mr. Abadi, a British-trained engineer who spent nearly two decades in exile before returning to Iraq last year. He found out the commission had been formally signed into law only when a reporter asked him for comment about it. "No one from the U.S. even found time to call and tell me themselves," he says.

As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make.


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