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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 April, 2003, 01:22 GMT 02:22 UK
US rush over post-war Iraq

By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

The US is to take the first step in establishing a new civil administration for Iraq in the next few days.

Retired US general Jay Garner
Garner's task is to prepare the ground for an Iraqi interim authority
Even as they keep up the pressure on Baghdad, the Americans are putting in place the first building-blocks of a new, post-war Iraq.

The head of the new civilian administration, retired US general Jay Garner, is expected to hold a press conference in Kuwait on Monday.

On the following day members of his team move from Kuwait to the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

The idea is to start building a new civil administration in areas of the south and then gradually extend its remit through the whole country.

For the moment the priorities are likely to be humanitarian aid and rebuilding damaged infrastructure.

UN role?

But General Garner's task is also to prepare the ground for what's being called the IIA - the Iraqi Interim Authority.

In other words, he will help groom Iraqis who can eventually take over the government of the country, after what is supposed to be a three-month period of US military rule.

Few believe the Americans will hand over the reins so soon.

And even as General Garner's team prepares to start work in southern Iraq, a series of crucial issues remain unresolved.

What role will the UN play in post-war Iraq? Which Iraqis will run the interim authority?

Most crucial of all, will this really seem to ordinary Iraqis an exercise in democratisation or a new form of foreign domination?

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