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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 12:54 GMT
US 'fine-tunes' plans for post-war Iraq
Iraqi children playing football
An interim military commander would run the country

Three months ago, there was surprise and some disbelief when the New York Times reported that the Bush administration was working on a plan for the military government of a post-Saddam Iraq.

Iraqi factory worker
There are fears Iraq will descend into chaos and violence
Following the model of the American occupation of Japan after its defeat in the World War II, a US military commander would run the country for an interim period, before an eventual handover to a democratic Iraqi government.

Now the same newspaper says the plan is being fine-tuned, with some changes designed to blunt its more controversial aspects.

The administration is conscious of the charge - coming from Baghdad and other Arab capitals - that its real aim is to snatch control of Iraq and its oil reserves.

Difficult options

To counter the charge, officials are insisting that Iraqi oil is the property of the Iraqi people - and that the US military would protect the oil fields as a purely short-term measure - for example, to prevent Saddam Hussein setting fire to them.

They say a US military commander would run the country jointly with a civilian administrator for 18 months or so, during which time the priorities would be stabilising and rebuilding the country.

It is not clear - says the New York Times - whether the civilian administrator would be an American.

All this suggests the Americans are having to grapple with unpalatable options.

If they do not take the lead role in a post-Saddam Iraq, they are afraid the country could fall apart or descend into chaos and violence.

If they do run the place for an interim period, however, they will be accused of becoming a new imperial power.


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04 Dec 02 | Business
11 Oct 02 | Middle East
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