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Iraq Journals

Glimpses of life in a war-torn country by GNS national security correspondent John Yaukey and photo director Jeff Franko.


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Thursday, June 24

Iraq sovereignty raises questions about future

By John Yaukey | GNS

WASHINGTON - The agreement that transferred sovereignty to Iraq on Monday is vague in places, raising questions about who will command U.S. troops and what will happen to deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Here are some questions and answers surrounding the transfer:

Question: What exactly happened on Monday in Baghdad?

Answer: The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, the leading civil administration in Iraq, transferred power to an interim government selected by a special United Nations envoy in consultation with Iraqis and U.S. officials. Its mission is to stabilize Iraq and prepare for elections no later than Jan. 31. The new government is led by a prime minister, Iyad Allawi, who wields most of the authority, and a largely figurehead president, Ghazi al-Yawer.

Q: Are the Iraqis ready to take control of their own government?

A: They appear to be competent at running most of their 26 ministries. However, security remains a major problem. Iraqis are supposed to take the lead in security operations, but it's clear they will depend heavily on U.S. troops for at least several months.

Q: How will the lives of U.S. troops in Iraq change under the newly sovereign Iraqi government?

A: American troops probably will conduct joint patrols with Iraqis until the fledgling Iraqi forces can demonstrate improved competence and determination. Some Iraqi troops have collapsed in the face of combat or joined the insurgency.

Q: How many U.S. troops will remain in the newly sovereign Iraq and for how long?

A: The Pentagon plans to keep about 138,000 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future. The newly sovereign government could demand a full withdrawal anytime, but that's highly unlikely. U.S. troops conceivably could be in Iraq for years if the Iraqi leadership needs help.

Q: Who will be in charge of U.S. troops?

A: Iraqi leaders will largely be in charge of security decisions, but they will work in close consultation with U.S. generals. They will have the authority to veto major offensive operations like the Marine mission recently in Fallujah, where four American contract workers were killed and burned. But American and coalition forces will be able to take ``all necessary measures'' to ensure their own security.

Q: What sort of civil presence from the United States will remain in Iraq?

A: Large. The CPA essentially will morph into the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. With a staff of more than a thousand, it will be the largest U.S. Embassy in the world.

Q: Who will be in charge of the U.S. embassy in Iraq?

A: John Negroponte, the new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is now the top U.S. civil official in Iraq.

Q: When will Saddam Hussein go on trial and where?

A: Iraqi authorities hope to file criminal charges against him and others in his toppled regime sometime in the next few weeks. Saddam will be tried in Iraq. President Bush has said the United States will turn Saddam over to the Iraqis but has declined to set a time, saying ``appropriate security'' must be in place first. Iraqi investigators, with help from U.S. experts, still are gathering evidence against Saddam. It could take a year or more to prepare the case.