- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

President Bush yesterday appointed former ambassador and counterterrorism expert L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer to lead Iraq until an Iraqi government is ready to take over.”In selecting Jerry Bremer, our country will be sending one of our best citizens,” Mr. Bush said.”He’s a can-do-type person. He shares the same values as most Americans share, and that is our deep desire to have an orderly country in Iraq that is free and at peace, where the average citizen has a chance to achieve his or her dreams.”Mr. Bush’s personal envoy to the region, Zalmay Khalilzad, sat down with members of the Iraqi Leadership Council (ILC) — a group of Iraqi political leaders formed in exile — in Baghdad last week to establish them as the core of a new Iraqi government.The ILC includes Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, Jalal Talabani of the People’s Union of Kurdistan, Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord, and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution for Iraq, the younger brother of the party’s Tehran-based leader. “It was decided [the ILC] would be the nucleus of a government,” said Zaab Sethna, spokesman for the Iraqi National Congress.The ILC expects to hold another meeting in Baghdad tomorrow, when it is expected to announce the expansion of the core group to include a Sunni representative, Mr. Sethna said in a telephone interview from the capital.He would not specify who would fill that spot. But Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister in his 80s who was picked by Mr. Khalilzad to represent the Sunni population in the ILC earlier this year, arrived in Baghdad yesterday.Mr. Khalilzad supported Mr. Pachachi when the ILC was elected in February, in a meeting of the Iraqi political groups then operating in exile in northern Iraq. Mr. Pachachi declined the offer at the time and proceeded to set up his own political organization in London. Four weeks after tomorrow’s meeting, the ILC is to gather again to discuss the formation of a national conference and to elect a provisional government.Mr. Bremer, a conservative career diplomat who is expected to arrive in Baghdad next week, is seen as an ally of Pentagon leaders despite his State Department background.”People like [Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul] Wolfowitz are very comfortable with the choice,” said a source close to one of the exile groups.Mr. Sethna said the Iraqi National Congress welcomed the appointment. “We look forward to working closely with him,” he said by telephone from Baghdad.Mr. Bremer joined the diplomatic service in 1966 and served in Norway in 1976-79 and in the Netherlands in 1983-86.He was ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism, responsible for developing and implementing America’s global antiterror policies in the Reagan and first Bush administrations.He also headed the national commission investigating the nation’s vulnerability to terrorist attacks in 1999-2000.Mr. Bremer will outrank retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, who is running the Pentagon’s Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. Mr. Garner’s office came under fire from Iraqis for not moving fast enough after the fall of Baghdad to secure crucial water and electricity services to the shell-shocked population, as looters ransacked the capital and other major cities.

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