Monday, December 29

Well, SOMEONE'S Gotta Run This Railroad

It seems that Americans aren't the only ones getting impatient with the unwritten ending to the Iraq mess. Iraqis are, too. And guess who's taking the initiative?

Iraqi Council Flexes Muscles
The U.S.-appointed body is increasingly defying the coalition and pushing its own vision of a free and self-governing Iraq.

BAGHDAD — Seen by a distrustful public as a tool of the occupying powers, Iraq's Governing Council is coming of age on the job as it tries to define a leadership to take over from the United States and its allies.

But as the 25-member body steers Iraq toward sovereignty, promised in a mere six months, it is acting like a defiant adolescent, challenging the authority and wisdom of those who gave it life. And its bargaining position has been strengthened by the Bush administration's apparent eagerness to declare its mission accomplished before the U.S. presidential election.

No longer the passive instrument that U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer III used to carve the contours of a new Iraq, the council has become increasingly assertive, demanding control of the reconstruction purse strings and the authority to supplant Bremer's vision with its own.

Council members complained that fledgling Iraqi security forces were not given the financial support or authority needed to combat insurgents. They prevailed in getting U.S. assurances that war crimes suspects — jailed former leader Saddam Hussein first among them — will be handed over to Iraqis for prosecution, despite pressure from some American circles to try them in an international forum.

On Monday, the council signed three mobile telephone service licenses, ignoring a Pentagon probe into allegations of corruption made by U.S. and Turkish companies that had been unsuccessful bidders.
"Can you hear me now? Good. Get your occupying asses out of our way."