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May 28, 2004

New Iraqi PM Selected Unanimously

The BBC reports that the Iraqi Governing Council has unanimously approved a leading Shi'ite exile during the Hussein regime to lead the new, liberated Iraq after the transfer of sovereignty:

Former exile Iyad Allawi has been chosen to head an interim Iraqi government after sovereignty is handed back on 30 June. Mr Allawi - a Shia Muslim - was endorsed unanimously by the Governing Council, member Mahmoud Othman said.

An aide to Mr Allawi said his nomination had been approved by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi - who is charged with putting together a new government. He will lead the administration until direct elections scheduled for 2005.

The unanimity displayed by the council gives the hope of a smooth and politically viable transfer to civilian authority. Mr. Allawi's Shi'a background will allay fears of continued Sunni domination, especially after the dissatisfying resolution of the crisis in Fallujah, at least from the Shi'ite perspective. While I would have preferred to see a Kurd in this leadership post to keep the Kurds from pushing for either autonomy or outright independence, it appears Allawi has at least nominal Kurdish support, as well as broad-based secular support amongst all factions, as reported by the Washington Post. The Post also notes that Allawi had been a rival to Ahmed Chalabi, who's mysteriously been dropped from the list of American favorites:

Allawi heads the Iraqi National Accord, an exile group supported for years by the CIA. The INA was a rival to the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmad Chalabi, who was the Pentagon's favorite exile.

Allawi had more involvement on the ground against Saddam Hussein, as the Post also notes. He led the CIA-backd, mid-90s coup conspiracy against Hussein that the IIS eventually penetrated, killing most of those involved. Allawi himself had been the target of an assassination attempt. His anti-Ba'athist credentials, in other words, are impeccable. Hopefully, the same will be said for his skills in translating his broad-based coalition into a viable democratic government.


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