Straight Times / Washington Post – 2004-04-24 09:50:08
WASHINGTON — The new Iraqi interim government scheduled to take control on July 1 will have only ‘limited sovereignty’ over the country and no authority over United States and coalition military forces already there.
Senior State and Defence officials told this to Congress in testimony this week before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees.
Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman said the US will operate under the transitional law approved by the Iraqi Governing Council and a resolution approved by the United Nations Security Council last October.
Both those provisions give control of the country’s security to US military commanders.
Whereas in the past the turnover was described as granting total sovereignty to the appointed Iraqi government, Mr Grossman yesterday termed it ‘limited sovereignty’ because ‘it is limited by the transitional law…and the UN resolution’.
‘Under the current plan, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special adviser, Mr Lakhdar Brahimi, will appoint a temporary government that will run Iraqi government agencies for six months and prepare the way for January 2005 elections of an assembly that will select a second, temporary government and write a Constitution,’ he said.
Mr Wolfowitz described the July 1 government as ‘purely temporary’ and there to ‘run ministries…but most importantly, they’ll be setting up elections’.
In addition, he said, the government will run the police force ‘but in coordination with Centcom (the US Central Command), because this is not a normal police situation’.
‘Sovereignty is not something we can, or want, to take back,’ Mr Wolfowitz said yesterday, outlining efforts to develop a large, new armed force there. The security of Iraq…will be part of a multi-national force under US command, including Iraqi forces.’
Mr Wolfowitz’s comments came as he conceded that war costs in Iraq were rising and senior House Republicans pledged to give the military more money this year, whether or not the Bush administration asked for it.
Under questioning before the House committee, he said that as of January, the US was spending US$4.7 billion (S$8 billion) a month and noted that ‘there may be a bump up’ because of the 20,000 more troops currently there.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, told the panel that intense combat, higher-than-expected troop levels and depleted military hardware ‘are going to cost us more money’.
About USS$700 million in added troop costs have been identified and Gen Myers said the service chiefs had identified a US$4 billion shortfall.
‘We thought we could get through all of August,’ he said. ‘We’d have to figure out how to do September… We are working those estimates right now. And we’ve got to take a look and see if we have the wherewithal inside the (Defence Department) budget,’ he added.
Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter replied:
‘The committee, I think, General, is inclined to help you perhaps more than has been suggested by the Pentagon.’