- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2003

U.S. occupying forces in a postwar Iraq are not likely to face a persistent guerrilla campaign like the one they are confronting in Afghanistan, officials say.
Administration officials liken the situation to postwar Serbia, where President Slobodan Milosevic lost power and a fairly sophisticated populace moved toward democracy. Allied troops enforcing peace in bordering Kosovo have encountered little resistance.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a leading hawk on Iraq, said there is a "fundamental difference" between Iraq's secular society and other Gulf nations' hard-line Muslim populations.
"We're seeing today how much the people of Poland and Central and Eastern Europe appreciate what the United States did to help liberate them from the tyranny of the Soviet Union," he said last week on National Public Radio.
"I think you're going to see even more of that sentiment in Iraq. There's not going to be the hostility. … There simply won't be."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said his troops will use force if necessary to make sure Iraq is not carved up into autonomous regions.
"We've made very clear to everybody that we intend, in the event that force is used, that that remain a single country, and we would intend to have forces in place to see that advantage was not taken of any temporary disorder that could conceivably occur in a conflict," he said last week.
Bush administration officials also are driving home another point: The United States will not take ownership of Iraq's lucrative oil facilities and reserves.
"If there's a war, the world will see that the United States will fulfill its administrative responsibilities, including regarding oil, transparently and honestly, respecting the property and other rights of the Iraqi state and people," Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, told a congressional committee.
The U.S. war plan calls for seizing the fields around Kirkuk in the north and Basra in the south. But Pentagon officials privately acknowledge that if Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to sabotage his most precious asset in the coming days, the United States could not stop him. It might cost up to $10 billion to rebuild the country's oil facilities, the administration says.
In Iraq, the Bush administration's plan is to purge the government of Saddam's Ba'ath Party hard-liners and bring together a government of Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites.
Despite the history of conflict between Sunnis and Shi'ites, officials say they believe the two rival Muslim groups can be persuaded to work together in Iraq. A potential model is Afghanistan, where U.S. diplomats brought rival warlords together in a new government led by Hamid Karzai.
"The plans that we are looking at [after a war] would include using the institutions that are there, but purge Saddam Hussein's cohorts," Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Congress Feb. 12.
There is a brief track record for Iraq. The U.S. Army occupied the country's southern region for five weeks after Operation Desert Storm. The Americans generally were greeted as liberators by Shi'ites who had been repressed by Saddam's Sunni government.
An Army officer who commanded troops in southern Iraq in 1991 said he found the locals friendly.
"What I saw was very docile and subservient, both civilians and military," the officer said. "Iraq is a more sophisticated society, and the sophisticated society is sick of Saddam Hussein."
The officer said two of the most important features in a U.S. occupation would be to make it as brief as possible and provide medical care to win over the population.
How to organize an occupation is one of hundreds of issues facing the Pentagon's new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. The unit, which is run by retired Army generals, is weeks away from coming up with a final troop level and cost plan for running the country of 23 million people if U.S. forces oust Saddam.
The plan for Iraq tentatively foresees a two-year transition to democratic rule.
It would begin with an interim military administration commanded by Gen. Tommy Franks, who heads U.S. Central Command and will direct any attack on Iraq to disarm the country of weapons of mass destruction.
The United States would form a diverse Iraqi council to advise Gen. Franks and encourage towns to hold local elections. Baghdad would be rid of hard-line Ba'ath Party leaders. U.S. Army Civil Affairs units, medical teams and Navy construction cadres are likely to be tapped into the rebuilding efforts. This phase could last six months.
In stage two, Gen. Franks would begin handing off functions to existing Iraqi institutions and setting the stage for national elections, relying on a new legal code written by Iraqis.
Power would be transferred to a new democratic government in the final phase, but allied troops would stay in Iraq to maintain security and help democratize the Iraqi military.


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