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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The Way Forward

Yesterday's handover of sovereignty was a crucial milestone in Iraq's road to the league of decent nations. The early handover surprised everyone, especially the terrorists, and I believe it was a very smart move.

Now, there are two issues concerning the way forward in Iraq. First, this government must have and show that it has 100% sovereignty and that Prime Minister Allawi has the final say on everything that goes on in his country. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the Governing Council. The Arab media is already pointing to the presence of 130,000 American troops and ambassador Negroponte's huge embassy to indicate that this is not real sovereignty. Well anybody who knows me knows that I don't give a dead rat's ass about Arab opinion, but I do care tremendously about what Iraqis think. Early indicators show that the vast majority of Iraqis are willing to give this new government a chance and they will base their judgment on how well Allawi does in providing security, jobs, clean water, and electricity. I firmly believe that Iraqi anger towards the US occupation was not because of the occupation per se, but mainly because of the failure of this occupation in providing security and bread. Yes, things are better without Saddam. Yes, Iraqis can now hold mobile phones and log on to the internet. But in our impoverished world, those who enjoy such services don't usually exceed 5% of the population. If Allawi and his impressive cabinet didn't provide security and bread, Iraqis will turn against him just as they did with the coalition forces.

The second issue relates to the future operations of US forces. I worked in an advertising agency and we never sent an ad to a magazine without having the client's final approval. We did that mainly so that the client would bear all the responsibility if things went wrong. Apart from self defense operations, the multinational forces (MTF) shouldn't fire a single bullet without having the approval of the government. This is so crucial. All efforts must be made to take US forces away from the cities and into bases located outside. Those useless single humvee patrols should cease to exist. Iraqi policemen should be doing these patrols and not US forces. The IP might not be capable of fighting but I think they are capable of patrolling a street or two and calling the US forces if troubles emerge.

Iraqis must really feel that they are fighting for their future simply because nobody washes a rented car.

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