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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 23:15 GMT
Iraqi exiles reject foreign rule
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC News

As the United States continues its efforts to seek a second UN resolution authorising the use of force against Iraq, the prospect of divisions between Washington and Iraqi opposition groups has emerged.

A prominent Iraqi opposition group in exile has rejected any attempt to impose any form of foreign administration over Iraq, not even a transitional one, in a post-Saddam era.

There must be no gap in the sovereignty over Iraq by Iraqis
Ahmad Chalabi
Iraqi National Congress

Iraqi opposition groups in exile, which have been groomed by Washington as the nucleus of a future government to replace Saddam Hussein, have been wary of American plans for a post-Saddam Iraq for some time.

Although no-one knows for sure what these plans are, reports that Washington was considering a transitional military government headed by an American general was not welcome news for the Iraqi opposition, which now fears it could be sidelined.

Writing in a British newspaper, Ahmad Chalabi, who heads the prominent Iraqi National Congress, said Iraqis reject notions of foreign military government or a UN administration.

Mr Chalabi said there should be no gap in the sovereignty of Iraqis over Iraq.

The Americans say there has been a misunderstanding and that it will be up to the Iraqis themselves to decide the future of Iraq.

Regional moves

For its part, Washington is worried by reports that an Iranian-backed opposition group has deployed troops in northern Iraq.

The State Department said any Iranian-supported presence in northern Iraq would be destabilising.

The group itself - the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - says there is nothing wrong about Iraqi troops on Iraqi soil.

Meanwhile, the prospect of Turkey deploying troops in the Kurdish regions in the event of war has angered the Kurds.

Turkey is worried that the Kurds will use the opportunity of war on Baghdad to declare independence, and the Kurds feel let down by the Americans.

Jostling for influence, widespread suspicion about the intentions of other parties - all this does not bode well for whatever plans the American have for Iraq.

The problems of a post-Saddam era appear to have already begun.




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