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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 03:26 GMT 04:26 UK
Tough rebuilding ahead in Iraq
By Steve Schifferes
BBC News Online, Washington

Destroyed school in Basra
Iraqi officials showed journalists a destroyed school in Basra
The military team deployed to run post-war Iraq may have a longer, and harder task ahead of themselves than planned for.

As the debate over the US military strategy for fighting the war in Iraq has intensified, another less publicised debate has been raging about how to organise the peace.

The Pentagon had planned for a short military occupation, lasting around three months, when civilian affairs in Iraq would be run by the Office of Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction, before turning the government over a coalition of Iraqis.

Who will run post-war Iraq
Jay Garner, head, Office of Humanitarian Assistance and Reconstruction
Bruce Moore, northern area administrator
Barbara Bodine, central area administrator
Buck Walters, southern area administrator
George Ward, humanitarian aid
Lewis Lucke, reconstruction
Michael Mobbs, civilian government
Already the team of several hundred people, led by retired General Jay Garner, is in Kuwait, awaiting deployment.

On his first visit to the port of Umm Qasr in Iraq on Tuesday, General Garner said that "we're here to do a job of liberating them .. we will do it as fast as we can, and once we've done it, we will turn everything over to them."

Longer war

Key officials are in place, including two retired generals, to run different regions and to administer aid and reconstruction.

The Department of Defence's efforts to marginalise the State Department .. complicates our ability to help the Iraqi people and multiplies the dangers faced by relief workers in the field
Mary McClymont, InterAction
The US also plans to put advisors in each of the 23 Iraqi ministries to help restore them to normal functioning, and the US Treasury plans to replace the Iraqi currency with the US dollar.

However, the civilian team has had to postpone plans to send teams to Southern Iraq because of worries about the security situation, and the fierce resistance has led to worries that US administrators might be met with hostility rather than acceptance.

Just before the war started, Marc Grossman, the under-secretary for political affairs at the State Department, suggested that the US Government would rely on existing technocrats to run civilian agencies, and local officials and perhaps some part of the military to keep order at the local level.

But now there is some doubt that either the military or civilian local leaders could be relied on, at least without a long process of purging the pro-Saddam elements.

And there are renewed questions about how much legitimacy Iraqi exiles would have in participating in the government.

The US State Department is reported to be opposed to giving too much power to the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi - although the Pentagon has said it may hire INC members as advisors.

And the Pentagon has reportedly vetoed some key State Department appointments to the reconstruction team.

Amid these disputes, the US has postponed plans to name an Iraqi Interim Authority at least until Baghdad is captured and Saddam Hussein's regime is clearly overthrown.

Most foreign governments, including Britain, would like the UN to be involved in legitimising any new Iraqi government.

Angry aid agencies

There is also a battle between the Pentagon and the State Department about who will administer post-war humanitarian aid.

Traditionally it would be administered by the State Department's Disaster Assistance Relief Teams (Dart), part of USAID.

But the Pentagon has insisted that due to the security situation they must be under military control, and they have sought budgetary control of the money designated for reconstruction.

On Tuesday, a congressional committee voted to move the $2.5bn reconstruction allocation in the war budget back into the hands of the State Department.

Aid agencies are also worried that, if they go into Iraq under US military protection, they will undermine the principle of neutrality and protection of non-combatants they depend on for their credibility.

In a sharply worded letter, Mary McClymont, the head of InterAction, a coalition of the main US international aid agencies, said that "the Department of Defence's efforts to marginalise the State Department .. complicates our ability to help the Iraqi people and multiplies the dangers faced by relief workers in the field."

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