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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
US 'planning occupation of Iraq'
Apache helicopters in Kandahar, Afghanistan
Occupation would allow the US a free hand in Iraq
It has been reported that the Bush administration is developing a detailed plan to occupy Iraq and install an American-led military government in Baghdad if the US topples Saddam Hussein.

The New York Times newspaper and the Associated Press news agency have been briefed on the plan by unnamed senior administration officials.

However, the Associated Press says the two officials it spoke to consider that of all the plans being studied in Washington, this is among the least likely to be approved.

One prominent Iraqi opposition figure told the BBC the Americans would be naive to attempt to occupy the country.

Japan model

In the initial phase of the occupation, Iraq would be governed by an American military commander.

The New York Times suggests this could be General Tommy Franks, commander of US Central Command, in a role similar to that General Douglas MacArthur who governed Japan after its surrender in 1945.

Bush addresses troops before their departure for Afghanistan
The reports stress President Bush has not approved the plan
Under the plan, US commanders would be responsible for maintaining stability and overseeing the transition to a democratic government for an undetermined period of time.

The reports say officials believe that part of the merit of such a plan it that it would avoid the chaos and in-fighting that have plagued Afghanistan since the defeat of the Taleban.

It would also allow the US forces full control over Iraq while they find and destroy weapons of mass destruction.

War crimes trials

The post-war occupation of Iraq might be carried out by a US force, a United Nations force, or a coalition of forces - perhaps including Britain.

The plan also calls for war crimes trials of Iraqi leaders.

Officially President George Bush has not yet decided on military action to achieve his stated aim of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and his regime.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he had no comment on the reports.

The New York Times quotes an official as saying the administration is "coalescing around" the occupation scenario - but it stresses it is not yet been approved by Mr Bush.

'Warning to Iraqi general'

Correspondents have suggested that the floating of an occupation plan and the possibility of war crimes trials could be the US administration's way of warning the Iraq's generals of the cost of continuing to support Saddam Hussein or of using weapons of mass destruction in the event of US-led military action against Iraq.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the idea is remarkable - a country which began its modern existence under a British mandate would, in effect, come under an American one.

While opposing an occupation of Iraq or turning it into an American protectorate, Iraqi opposition groups say that a temporary foreign presence working with an Iraqi civilian government would be acceptable.

Our correspondent says that the plan shows Washington is not finding it easy to come up with a convincing answer to the question of what will happen the day after the Iraqi leader has been overthrown.


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11 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Oct 02 | Middle East
09 Oct 02 | Middle East
09 Oct 02 | Science/Nature
08 Oct 02 | Americas
08 Oct 02 | Americas
02 Oct 02 | Americas
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