THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND IRAQ
"Our view of an Iraqi interim authority," State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said, "is something that is run and chosen by Iraqis; that it should be representative of all the groups in Iraq; it should include members of the exile community who have worked very hard over a number of decades for the liberation of Iraq, for the freedom of the Iraqi people. It should also include people inside Iraq."
This is more than a battle over the status of Ahmed Chalabi and the INC in post-Saddam Iraq. State and the CIA have reason to be wary of Chalabi, who while reliably pro-Western and secular, has minimal support within Iraq itself. However, the State Department's basic concept of relying heavily on established power brokers such as tribal leaders, the lower echelon Iraqi civil service and the UN bureaucracy, caters to regional Arab preferences to go slow with any genuine democratic reforms. Reforms that could only be implemented by a tough, military-run occupation unfettered by UN obstructionism. State Department officials, who have been openly skeptical of attempting to democratize Iraq, would prefer an Arab version of Loya Jirga where a council of Iraqi leaders are transformed into a provisional government of the usual paternal characteristics of the region. Opposition to Chalabi at State stems not from fears that he would be a puppet- strongman, but because out of weakness Chalabi and the INC would need to institute genuine democracy and win a free election to acquire legitimacy. This causes great anxiety to the Saudis, the Egyptians and even the Jordainians who would find even a limited Arab democracy in Iraq destabilizing and attractive to their own restive populations. All the more reason to press forward and let the DoD run the show.