Suspicions Swirl As
US Unveils Iraq Team

By William Maclean

KUWAIT (Reuters) - The United States unveils a civil administration for postwar Iraq on Monday amid profound Arab suspicion about Washington's motives and widespread calls that the United Nations be given the job instead.
The team, headed by retired U.S. Gen. Jay Garner, says it wants to quickly hand over to Iraqis, but Arab analysts say ordinary Iraqis are unlikely to accept rule by foreigners on any terms.
"The idea is that we work ourselves out of a job as soon as we can," Garner's spokesman Nathan Jones told Reuters.
Garner is due to address the media for the first time at 0500 GMT on Monday at a news conference in Kuwait, where he and his team are working at a luxury hotel.
The mission of Garner's Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) is to provide humanitarian assistance, work on reconstructing the country and install a civil administration that would prepare for the eventual creation of an interim government by Iraqis themselves.
One ORHA official who declined to be identified said he estimated the team might hand over to an interim government just three months after hostilities end.
But analysts say Iraqis will not cooperate on any substantial scale with administrators drawn from their immediate U.S. conquerors and officials from former colonial ruler Britain whose troops are fighting alongside U.S. forces.
"What is normal for Iraqis is to look at anyone who is running their country and ask whether they are indeed Iraqi," said Palestinian-American author Said Aburish.
"Such pride has nothing to do with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein. It has everything to do with their belief that they are too good to be colonized.
"So the Iraqis will be happy for two months as they get fresh food and medicine. Then God himself could not prevent them from reverting to type."
Garner's team, dominated by Americans, will administer three regions, with retired Gen. Buck Walters in the south, retired Gen. Bruce Moore in the north and former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine in the central region.
British and Australian officials will also have places on the team, but are a minority.
Humanitarian assistance is expected to be overseen by George Ward, a former ambassador to Namibia, reconstruction by Lewis Lucke of the U.S. Agency for International Development and civil administration by lawyer and former arms Michael Mobbs.
James Woolsey, a hawkish former CIA director, is spoken of as a possible member of the team.
But Aburish and other analysts and diplomats say the U.S. government lacks the expertise and cultural awareness to run a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country battered by three devastating wars in 20 years and 12 years of sanctions.
"The more this move looks as if it serves U.S. interests the more it will be distrusted in the region," said Saudi analyst Mai Yamani. "It will reinforce the idea that they are occupiers and colonizers."
The United States faces criticism for assuming the leading role in immediate post-war Iraq instead of the United Nations.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has rebuffed the near unanimous demands from members of the European Union and NATO to put the United Nations in the driving seat.
But aid agency Oxfam, echoing a widespread view, said the United States, Britain and Australia lacked the legitimacy and experience to establish an accountable Iraqi administration quickly and the world body should have the job of preparing Iraqi rule.
"The most fundamental issue for successful reconstruction is the ownership of these efforts by Iraqis," Oxfam said.
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