- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The State Department has named more than 30 Iraqi exiles, most of them living in the United States, to head to Baghdad to serve as the professional core of a new administration as soon as possible after the fall of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime.
Ranging from professors to the chief executive officers of banks, the exiles say they expect to serve as the "frontmen" of Baghdad's new government, linking with Iraqi nationals on the ground to reconstruct everything from the country's police force to its banking system.
Divided into sectors such as "democratic principles and procedures" and "transitional justice," some of those on the list already are in the region working in parallel with coalition forces to oust Saddam.
Others have been coordinating with the State Department and Department of Defense, drawing up plans on how best to rebuild Iraq's institutions and policies and smooth the path toward a permanent government.
"The key will be a sustainable peace, and that needs a sustainable economy," explained Rubar Sandi, chairman of Corporate Bank in New York, who has been named to serve in the economy and infrastructure sector.
"I will play a major role in the building of institutions from the bottom up," said Mr. Sandi, a veteran of the failed Kurdish uprising in 1974 who has been talking with the State, Defense and Treasury departments. However, he said, he did not see a political role for himself under an anticipated U.S.-supported civilian government.
Emanuel Kambar, a physics professor at Western Michigan University, also is on the State Department list of those ready to move back to Iraq and help rebuild the government, including rewriting the country's constitution.
"We would be in some advisory capacity," Mr. Kambar said. "We hope to see a civilian transition of Iraq from the inside and the outside" within six months to two years from the end of successful military action.
"I would like to see a democratic, secular, multiethnic Iraq," added Mr. Kambar, who is an Assyrian Christian and longtime Iraqi opposition member.
But he said he had not had any contact with Jay Garner, the retired general who heads the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and is tipped to lead a post-Hussein peacekeeping administration.
The exiles include Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites, but have been chosen more for their badly needed professional skills than their political background, said Judith Kipper, senior fellow of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Members of the political opposition Iraqi National Congress do not appear to feature in the group. "I think they will have a percentage of a role in building a constituency, but not a role in governance," said Mr. Sandi.
A number of the Iraqi professionals have been working intensely for months to come up with detailed plans for a new Iraqi government; most say they are ready to fly to Baghdad at a moment's notice.
"Many have been asked to go in the day after and be facilitators and leapfrog the country to prosperity," said Ahmed Al-Hayderi, who works at a British-based telecommunications company and lives in Canada.
But while the group is determined to put Iraq back on its feet after the military coalition's operations, Mr. Al-Hayderi said there was concern among some Iraqi exiles whether the United States would stick by its pledges to let the Iraqi people form their own democratic system.
Whoever is chosen to lead Iraq, he said, must not have an immediate interest in the outcome.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide