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US Imposing Iraq President

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    Council defies US over top job choice: At a stormy governing council meeting yesterday, Mr Bremer bluntly warned members not to hold another vote on who should
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2004
      Council defies US over top job choice:

      At a stormy governing council meeting yesterday, Mr Bremer bluntly
      warned members not to hold another vote on who should be the new
      president. If they did he would ignore it.


      Luke Harding and Michael Howard in Baghdad
      Monday May 31, 2004
      The Guardian

      The US was last night locked in a dispute with Iraqi leaders over who
      should be the country's president when power is handed over on June
      The US governor of Iraq, Paul Bremer, and the UN special envoy
      Lakhdar Brahimi, insisted the job should go to Adnan Pachachi, an 81-
      year-old former foreign minister. But the Iraqi governing council
      demanded that the largely ceremonial post should go to Sheikh Ghazi
      Mashal Ajil al-Yawar, an Arab businessman in his 40s who has
      criticised the US-led occupation and who is the council's president.

      The row threatens to delay the appointment of a new interim
      government. A ceremony scheduled for today appeared last night to
      have been postponed.

      On Friday the governing council voted unanimously to endorse Ayad
      Allawi, a British-educated neurosurgeon with close links to the CIA,
      as the new prime minister - a move that seems to have caught Mr
      Brahimi by surprise.

      At a stormy governing council meeting yesterday, Mr Bremer bluntly
      warned members not to hold another vote on who should be the new
      president. If they did he would ignore it.

      "The behaviour of Mr Bremer and Mr Brahimi has been shameful," Dr
      Mahmoud Othman, a leading council member told the Guardian. "It's
      like being in a dictatorship again. Adnan follows the Americans
      around like a puppy. If the Americans told Adnan that yoghurt was
      black, he would go along with it."

      Yesterday the coalition's spokesman, Dan Senor, denied that the US
      favoured Mr Pachachi. "We are not urging any one candidate," he said.

      Mr Bremer's tough stance in support of Mr Pachachi, a former exile
      who served as Iraq's foreign minister before the Ba'ath party seized
      power in 1968, was unexpected. The Americans had previously indicated
      that they were primarily interested in approving the choice for prime

      The governing council is due to meet again today, amid rumours that a
      mystery third candidate could emerge.

      Council members admitted that the row was the main stumbling block to
      an agreement on the entire cabinet, due to be unveiled this week,
      which will hold power until Iraqi elections next January.

      The bickering has done little to help the new government's
      credibility. "The people were never involved in the political process
      for 35 years. So what's new," Kareem Mahmoud, a Baghdad street vendor

      Sheikh Ghazi took over as head of the governing council earlier this
      month after the assassination of his predecessor, Izzedin Salim.

      Both he and Mr Pachachi are Sunni Arabs. But while Mr Pachachi wears
      western suits, Sheikh Ghazi dresses in traditional Arab robes and

      Yesterday a source close to Sheikh Ghazi said Mr Bremer and Mr
      Brahimi asked him to step down in favour of Mr Pachachi. He was
      apparently offered the post of cabinet spokesman or ambassador in
      Washington. The sheikh told them to seek the governing council's

      In a recent television interview, he blamed America for Iraq's
      problems. "They occupied the country, disbanded the security agencies
      and for 10 months left Iraq's borders open for anyone to come in
      without a visa or passport."

      Mr Pachachi fled to the United Arab Emirates after the Ba'ath party
      seized power. He is well connected with the US, and pro-US states in
      the Gulf.

      Last night senior Iraqi politicians admitted that despite Mr
      Brahimi's promise to bring in "non-political" faces and technocrats,
      the new Iraqi government looked suspiciously like the old one. "The
      difference this time is that it does have powers and will have
      international recognition," Dr Othman admitted.

      "Until there are elections, no government can really lay claim to

      · Masked gunmen ambushed a convoy of armoured vehicles carrying
      western civilians in north-west Baghdad last night, killing at least
      four Iraqis and abducting three westerners, police said.

      A Guardian translator who arrived on the scene soon after the
      incident said locals were dancing around two burning four-wheel-drive
      vehicles, chanting "victory to the Arabs". Police said up to eight
      men in Arab dress had fired on the convoy from a bridge.

      'Almost 100% of Shias are disillusioned' with Bush's occupation of
      Iraq, says one attendee.

      Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times, 5/31/04

      WASHINGTON — New Jersey cardiologist Syed M. Rizvi has long been a
      loyal Republican, drawn by the party's socially conservative
      platform, which reflects his Islamic faith and traditional Indian
      culture. But this year, he suspended his party membership and is now
      rethinking his support of President Bush for one reason — Iraq.

      Although Rizvi applauded the ouster of Saddam Hussein, he fears his
      fellow Shiite Muslims in Iraq are unduly suffering from the postwar
      chaos, carnage and what he sees as too much American say over the
      country's policies.

      "They are not letting Shias take control," said Rizvi, who Sunday was
      among 3,000 Shiites gathered here for their second annual
      convention. "I am really disappointed."

      Rizvi's views seemed to reflect a larger turnabout in a constituency
      that once counted itself as staunch supporters of U.S. policies in
      Iraq. Most American Shiites were jubilant over the overthrow of
      Hussein, who brutally persecuted Iraq's Shiite majority, and
      anticipated that the ensuing Democratic government would lead to the
      world's first Arab Shiite state. But much of that optimism has

      "Almost 100% of Shias are disillusioned. They say we traded one
      occupation for another," said Robert Crane, a Shiite Muslim convert
      who heads the Center for Policy Research, an Islamic think tank in
      Washington. Crane is a lifelong Republican who contributed to Bush's
      campaign and voted for him in the last presidential election but now
      is reconsidering his support.

      Iraq topped the list of foreign policy concerns at the weekend
      convention of the Universal Muslim Assn. of America, a group formed
      last year to organize the Shiite community here and project a
      distinct voice on religious and public policy issues. Organizers said
      they hoped to issue a conference statement today that would condemn
      terrorism, call for a "just peace" in Iraq based on Iraqi wishes and
      a urge deeper understanding of Shiite Muslims by Americans.

      But convention-goers also discussed issues ranging from the lingering
      impact of the attacks of Sept. 11 to interfaith relations and social
      pressures on young Muslims to date and drink.

      "We are trying to build a new voice for the Muslim world," said media
      coordinator Ali Alahmed.

      The conference's theme, "Unity in Diversity," illustrated some of the
      challenges facing the fledgling organization as it tries to pull
      together Shiites, who compose an estimated 10% to 20% of the nation's
      Muslims. In defining their association as American, conference
      organizers did not, for instance, require women to wear a hijab, a
      head scarf, or sit separately from men. They even held a youth mixer,
      encouraging members of the opposite sex to exchange information.

      But that did not sit well with traditionalists from Mideast and South
      Asian countries, according to Parvez Shah, conference chairman. He
      also said organizers, who are mostly of Pakistani and Indian origin,
      have so far failed to coax other sizeable Shiite communities to
      participate, notably Iranians and Arabs.

      Unity with other faith communities and other Muslims — especially the
      Sunni majority in the U.S. — was also urged by several conference
      speakers, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

      Relations with American Sunnis have at times been tense, with Shiites
      complaining that they are not embraced by many Sunni-led
      organizations and at times even accused of being infidels for
      following a different line of Muslim leaders after the prophet
      Muhammad. Such frustrations in part led Shiites to form their own
      organization last year after two decades of discussion about it,
      according to Rizvi.

      But Ebadi, an Iranian jurist and activist, emphatically urged unity,
      exhorting the Shiite audience to "not reinforce differences with our
      Sunni co-religionists, particularly during these times of crisis, as
      others try to defame our faith."

      Azizah al-Hibri, a University of Richmond law professor and activist
      with a Muslim women lawyers' association, echoed that theme, calling
      for a national broad-based Muslim leadership that would include
      women, Shiites and other minorities. She said the absence of such
      leadership had resulted in the Muslim community's marginalization.

      "We have been voiceless in this country … not because we have been
      pushed aside but because we did not fight for our rights at the
      table," she said. "So long as we are divided we are not going to be
      able to look at the situation we're in."

      For some, the conference was largely a social event offering a rare
      opportunity to meet Shiite Muslims from around the country. Norane
      Mir, 23, a UC Santa Barbara student, came to network with other young
      Muslims and pass her resume around in hopes of finding a research job
      in her field of neuropsychology. Irma Khoja, a Columbia University
      student, said she came in part to spread the word about an upcoming
      retreat to develop Shiite youth leadership.

      At least some families came to look for potential spouses for their
      children. The conference offered a one-day "matrimonial service"
      staffed by several women who collected data on marriage seekers. More
      of the social action, however, seemed to take place in the Marriott
      Hotel lobby, where young Muslims hung out and quietly eyed each other.

      Still, the issue of Iraq never seemed far from the surface. Maina
      Agha, a New Jersey travel agent, called Bush a "blessing" for giving
      Shiites a voice in Iraq for the first time in centuries; she blamed
      the postwar chaos not on Americans but on outside Islamic extremists.
      In panel discussions, interviews and casual lobby conversations,
      however, several convention-goers questioned the motives of the Bush
      administration for invading Iraq and fretted over what they see as
      anti-Muslim bias among top U.S. government officials.

      Crane, a fluent Arabic speaker and former ambassador to the United
      Arab Emirates, said the U.S. must begin to emphasize justice, a key
      Islamic value, in its policies in Iraq and elsewhere. He also
      predicted further problems unless American policymakers allowed
      Iraqis to base their constitution on Islamic law.

      "Unless you do that, we'll continue to be opposed by the majority of
      Iraqis," he said.

      Enraging Sunni Muslims :

      "They say they are searching for a killer in the mosque," said Hassam
      Aziz Abdul, while glaring at soldiers who walked dogs into the
      mosque. "But they want to destroy every holy place in my country."


      U.S. Military Raids Baghdad Mosque, Enraging Sunni Muslims
      by Dahr Jamail (bio)

      Baghdad , May 15 - At roughly 5 PM today, US soldiers used tanks,
      Bradley fighting vehicles, Humvees and dogs to seal off Abu Hanifa
      Mosque in the Al-Adhamiya district of Baghdad. They held an estimated
      200 Muslims at gunpoint for the duration of the raid and kicked in
      the door to Imam Muad Al-Adhamy's office, as well as two more doors
      in the mosque's inner Haram. Witnesses said the soldiers emptied a
      bookshelf of Qur'ans, spilling the holy books across the floor.

      "They say they are searching for a killer in the mosque," said Hassam
      Aziz Abdul, while glaring at soldiers who walked dogs into the
      mosque. "But they want to destroy every holy place in my country."

      Barely a month ago, on April 13, the US Army raided this important
      Sunni mosque during a weapons search, smashing several doors inside
      the adjacent college and shooting holes in walls and ceilings. They
      found no contraband. Today's incident constitutes the fourth time Abu
      Hanifa Mosque has been raided by the occupation forces since the
      April 2003 invasion.

      The repeated harassment of Abu Hanifa by occupation forces has left
      Iraqis to speculate as to the motives behind the raids. The people of
      Al-Adhamiya are well aware that Abu Hanifa has been a focal point of
      unification efforts between the two largest Muslim sects in Iraq.
      Combined Sunni and Shi'ite prayer services have been held at the Abu
      Hanifa and other mosques in recent days. Many Iraqis believe the US
      wishes to keep Sunnis and Shi'ites divided, just as Saddam Hussein
      did for decades of dictatorial rule.

      Ra'ad Hussam Thamil, a 58 year-old man, who was praying inside the
      mosque when the soldiers arrived, said the crowd of 200 people was
      held at gunpoint for nearly an hour.
      Ra'ad Hussam Thamil, 58, was praying inside the mosque when the
      soldiers arrived. He said the crowd of 200 people was held at
      gunpoint for nearly an hour.

      "Two of the older men who have diabetes needed to use the toilet," he
      said, "but when they asked if they could go, they were not allowed."

      Thamil and others expressed outrage that soldiers had entered the
      mosque with their boots on. For Muslims, wearing shoes or bringing
      dogs inside a holy place is strictly forbidden.

      Another Al-Adhamiya resident and member of the mosque, Ali Rhassam
      Hammad, insisted the mosque is not involved in harboring resistance
      members. "The resistance here does not use the mosque. We are not
      Sadr," he stated, referring to the use of holy places by Muqtada Al-
      Sadr and his militia.

      "Why are the Americans doing this to us?" Hammad asked while watching
      tank turrets swivel back and forth across the crowd of onlookers.

      When a Western reporter tried to speak to a soldier about the raid in
      progress, the soldier aimed his gun at the journalist and waved him

      The US troops withdrew from the mosque after about an hour, having
      found neither weapons nor the individual for whom they had informed
      mosque staff they were searching.

      Abu Talat, another member of the mosque, said he felt despair over
      the behavior of the occupation forces toward the holy places in Iraq.
      He angrily watched the soldiers in front of the mosque. "How do you
      think this makes us feel?" he asked bitterly. "They are going into
      our holy place and walking with their boots over where we pray!"

      Dr. Adnan Mohammed Salman Al-Dulainy, the director of all the Sunni
      Imams of Iraq, promptly came to the mosque to discuss the situation
      with Imam Muad and then delivered a powerful speech after the evening

      "I call on all of the Arab and Muslim leaders throughout the world to
      condemn these actions and to show their frustration about these
      despicable acts," he stated firmly to a crowd of several hundred
      people. "This is a humiliation to Muslims across the world. I
      challenge the Americans to show that we use this sacred mosque for

      Reached by telephone, the Public Affairs Officer at the Coalition
      Press Information Center said there was no statement available about
      the mosque raid.

      In the Imam's office at Abu Hanifa, the elderly Dr. Al-Dulainy
      said, "Each time a problem is settled, another one comes along which
      is worse. Nothing in all my life has been as bad as this."

      Dr. Al-Dulainy expressed his frustration from having attempted on
      numerous occasions to work with senior US officers. "I have been
      completely open and clear with the Americans about how they should
      behave in our holy places," he said, "yet they don't change how they
      treat our mosque."



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