The Coalition Provisional Authority turned over sovereignty to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the interim Iraqi government two days earlier than expected, in what the Washington Post describes as a “hastily arranged ceremony” at 10:26 Baghdad time this morning:
The United States transferred political authority to an interim Iraqi government in a high-security but low-key surprise ceremony on Monday morning that was held inside the U.S.-controlled Green Zone two days before the planned June 30 handover date because of fears of insurgent attacks.
At the hastily arranged ceremony, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer handed over a signed document in a blue portfolio conveying political authority to the chief judge of Iraq’s highest court.
The transfer of power occurred in the office of Iraq’s interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, at 10:26 a.m. local time (2:26 a.m. EDT) before a handful of Iraqi and U.S. officials and journalists. “You are ready now for sovereignty and we think it’s an important part of our obligation as temporary custodians to hand it over,” Bremer said.
“I have confidence that the Iraqi government is ready to meet the challenges.” Bremer also gave Allawi a letter from President Bush asking for formal diplomatic ties with the interim government.
This was Bush’s answer to Abu al-Zarqawi and the rest of the terrorists and Ba’athist remnants who set off a series of bombings across Iraq last week, murdering scores of Iraqi civilians and police and attempted to derail the transfer to Iraqi civilian control. Actually, I would not be surprised in the least if this turned out to be not a “hastily arranged” occurrence but a well-planned effort to elude terrorists. I rather suspect that June 28 has been the target date all along.
Of course, the Post’s coverage leaves something to be desired. The story includes a silly reference to CPA administrator Paul Bremer as “viceroy” without the scare quotes, as though that were his official title. The Post attempts to evoke the memories of colonialism even as sovereignty is transferred to Iraqis less than 15 months after the fall of Saddam and ahead of an already-ambitious schedule. One wonders if the news media might resent the quick transfer as they also appeared to have been shut out of the event.