Contrary to what its name may let invoke, Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is neither a body of the coalition nor, even, an agency of the United States. The litigations that turn up, concerning the invitation to tender for the reconstruction show that the Authority is not an institution of the public law, but a private company. George W.Bush has privatized Iraq, as Leopold II of Belgium did of Congo. This is what Thierry Meyssan reveals in an intervention before the conference of support to the Iraqi resistance (Paris, May 15th, 2004).
May 10th, the President George W.Bush gathered, exceptionally, the national Security Council in Pentagon. At the close of this meeting, he addressed the armed forces of the United States. He was surrounded by his principal collaborators, making sure, then, to confirm the unity of his team, of which the public opinion started to doubt. In the course of this television intervention, he stated: «[One of our fundamental commitments] is to transfer sovereignty to an Iraqi government as quickly as possible. Decades of oppression destroyed every free institution in Iraq, but not the desire to live in freedom. Like any proud country, the Iraqi people want their independence, and we are fully committed to their national dignity. This is a reason the June 30th transfer of sovereignty is vital. The Iraqi people, and man and women across the Middle East, are watching closely, and they will America keep its word».
- Lakhdar Brahimi
- Koffi Annan’s special envoy who will appoint the members of the first "free" Iraqi government .
If one takes a closer look at this declaration, it seems that its lyricism masks a conceptual uneasiness. George Bush asserts that a coalition of states will hold the promises of the single United States. He states a transfer of sovereignty, but without saying neither who holds it today, nor who is going to assume it tomorrow. This haziness is a constant of the declarations of the United States’ president. Within the society of communication, ours, the media takes charge of explaining what we have to understand: coalition members are in a such close empathy with the United States that they consider the fulfillness of the White House promises as a duty. They exercise, together, a power on the ground in Iraq, via the intervention of the Coalition Provisional Authority, directed by the United States’ ambassador L.Paul Bremer III, and should hand it over on June 30th to a government appointed by the special envoy of the UN secretary, Lakhdar Ibrahimi. This vulgate stands as a subject of consensus. Based on this, commentators give their opinions, and diplomats take a stand.
Unfortunately, as I will try to explain, if the United States’ president appears too unclear, it is because all what he says about this subject, via his press, is untrue. And he wishes neither to confirm it nor to deny it. In fact, despite its title, the Coalition Provisional Authority does not emanate from the military coalition that has over turned Saddam Hussein’s regime. Thus, this coalition does not have the ability to hand over a power that it does not hold. Moreover, if the president Bush states that it is vital that his allies fulfil their promises, it is because he needs them to put an end to an uncontrollable situation.
Who governs Iraq today?
Mid April 2003, the general Garner became the civil ruler of Iraq. He introduced himself as the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance head (ORHA). This organization has apparently been created by a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD 24), on January 2003.That is to say even before the debate, in the Security Council, on the timeliness of the war. At that time, the military coalition did not exist yet. So, the ORHA is no more than an entity of the United States’ law. According to the press, the ORHA is tied to the Pentagon. This is confirmed by the fact that Jay Garner reports to Donald Rumsfeld via the central command commander-in-chief general Tommy R.Franks.
- L. Paul Bremer III
- He manages the Iraqi Treasury and the discretionary allocation of procurement contracts.
Such a system could not satisfy Washington’s allies. Moreover, the Pentagon was held responsible for Garner’s difficulties in Iraq. Bush then took back the control of things and named the ambassador L.Paul Bremer III, on May 6th 2003, as special envoy and civilian administrator of Iraq. On May 13th, the secretary of Defence appointed the ambassador Bremer as administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Exit general Garner. No official document explains how we pass from the ORHA to the CPA, or what is meant by the plurality of civil administrator of Iraq and of the CPA administrator by Sir Bremer.
May 8th, that is to say after the appointment of Bremer by Bush, but before his nomination by Rumsfeld, the permanent representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom in UN, John Negroponte and Sir Jeremy Greenstock, addressed a letter to the Security Council president. A passage of it says: «(...The United States, the United Kingdom and Coalition partners, acting under existing command and control arrangements through the Commander of Coalition Forces have created the Coalition Provisional Authority, which includes the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance to exercise powers of government temporarily and, as necessary, specially to provide security, to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, and to eliminate weapons of mass destruction)». In other words, the CPA should have been created by the Coalition. The decision should have been taken within the common senior-staff directed by the military “commander”. The CPA should have absorbed the ORHA. The problem is that an officers’ meeting, can coordinate a military action, but it is not a subject of the international law.
No one can define the Coalition. Besides, it has never met. It seems that it stands for the whole states that were implied military with the United States in Iraq, in addition to those who assisted at the intelligence level, and even those who only provided a moral support. We can not imagine how those latter might have been represented in the senior-staff meeting that created the CPA. The Coalition states are not linked by a treaty. Accordingly, they did not establish a collective organization and they can not create a legal status. Besides, one can wonder how the CPA can include one of the Pentagon offices, the ORHA. Admitting that it is an unfortunate expression signifies that the ORHA personals were in the CPA disposal.
However, in the correction fiscal tax law FY 2004, presented in emergency to the Congress, White House services write, regarding the reconstruction and help funds in Iraq: «Funds appropriated under this leading shall be apportioned only to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (in its capacity as an entity of the United States government), the Department of State, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Treasury, the Department of Defence, and the United States Agency for International Development».
In other words, the Bush administration introduced the CPA to the UN as a Coalition body and to the Congress as a division of its government. The White House gives no explanation to the Congress about how the CPA was created. The single legal solution might be that it has been created by another secret presidential directive on May 2003. In all cases, the CPA was introduced as an effective authority to the UN. The Security Council acknowledged it in its resolution 1483, of May the 22nd 2003. Thus, the Council appeared to be pragmatic, it did not present a legal basis for the CPA. It did not authorize and less instituted it.
What is the CPA?
At first sight, the UN’s pragmatism is sufficient. It does not matter who created the CPA and how. It is here governing Iraq, the only representative with which it is possible to discuss. But, with a closer approach, it is necessary to know the nature of the CPA and what are the rules governing it.That is the mystery.
With the exception of the special representative of the United Kingdom, Jon Sawers, Paul Bremer’s assistant, all the supervisory staff of the CPA belongs to the United States. It involves transferred civilian servants, at the CPA’s disposal, who are paid by their countries’ administrations. Those who come from the private sector have been arbitrarily linked to other administrations. This way, the CPA administrator, L.Paul Bremer II, who was managing an important private company, has been linked to the Army, and not to the State Department as his function of ambassador may make us think. Whereas, in United States internal law, the Army does not have the capacity to attribute wages to foreign personals to the Defence Department, unless in exceptional cases that must be specified contractually. Yet, there exists no public document linking the CPA and the Pentagon. In the final analysis, M.Bremer is not a civilian employee of the Army, and this latter does not insure his security, which is entrusted to a mercenary agency paid by the CPA.
It is the CPA who invites bids for the reconstruction of Iraq. It accepts but the applications of companies resident in the states appearing in a list drawn up by the assistant Secretary of Defence Department, Paul Wolfowitz. A list that does not match that one of the Coalition broadcasted by the State Department. The CPA is not constraint to the United States markets’ regulation. Thus, the CPA has allocated, arbitrarily, a market of 231 million dollars to Nour USA so as to equip the new police forces with telecommunication equipments, to the detriment of Tukcell Consortium that was the highest bidder. But Nour USA is the ownership of A.Huda Faouki, a personal friend of Ahmed Chalabi. All the procedures undertook by Tuckcell Consortium to cancel the market have failed, the CPA does not refer to any law but to that one that enact itself.
In other words, the CPA pays its staff by the United States’ taxpayer, but it is independent of the United States’ legislation when concerning the funds granted it by the Congress. The CPA is not more accountant of Iraqi funds. The Iraqi Treasury was seized by the Coalition and handed over to the CPA that deposited it in the Development Fund for Iraq that it has already created. However, the Coalition has seized 5 billion dollars and only 1 billion appeared in the CPA’s accounting. The remaining 4 billions were embezzled by L.Paul Bremer III. This question was raised within Madrid’s conference for the reconstruction, but the CPA gave no response.
So, we should base on the obvious fact and describe the CPA as it appears. It is neither a subject of the international law, nor a subject of the United States’ administrative law. In fact, it is a private company established at the model of the East India Company. A military Coalition has overturned a regime and left the authority to private interests. The way Leopold II conquered Congo by the Belgium armies in 1885, not to make of it one of the Kingdom colonies, but to transfer it into his own estate, his personal proprietorship. This situation represents a considerable decline: it is of no equivalence since the drawing up of the international law, the establishment of the Hague court, the SDN and the UNO.
In front of the scale of the scandal, it is likely that the White House will regularize later the CPA status, via publishing backdated documents. In this case, these documents may serve as a juridical basis to the contesting of management irregularities I have evoked already. From then on, we understand better the President Bush’s declarations, and the haste with which he wants to give back the power to an aboriginal government. As all the Mafioso institutions, one day, after having robbed what might be stolen, it will be necessary to adopt the legal means so as to enjoy peacefully his all inclusive prices.
This article is an adaptation of Thierry Meyssan’s intervention in front of the conference of support to the Iraqi resistance hold in Paris on Saturday, May 15th, 2004. More information about the conference available at: www.iraqresistance.net