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Iraq After Saddam

Aired April 5, 2003 - 06:40   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Interesting to talk about what the next step is after the war. A senior U.S. official says there is a rough design for an interim Iraqi government that Saddam Hussein if he's ousted from power. In fact, the U.S. may try to start installing a new government in Baghdad as soon as next week.
Jane Perlez is a writer from "The New York Times." This is her beat. She is here to talk more about what could be next in a post- Saddam Iraq.

Jane, hello. Thanks for being with us.

First of all, I guess the question is: Who is going to run the place? In terms of the U.S. government, is the military in charge of putting that government in?

JANE PERLEZ, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": There is no question that the American military is in charge. Former General Jay Garner is working a few miles from where we are now with a bunch of former generals and civilians, but he reports directly to Tommy Franks.

KAGAN: But even this is controversial on the international stage if it should be the U.S. military putting this in rather than the United Nations.

PERLEZ: Very much so, because Tony Blair at home in England is under great political pressure to have the United Nations deal with the peace, and I think the Brits feel that they should have a voice in dealing with the peace after having contributed to the war effort. And of course, the Europeans feel the same way, even more so perhaps.

KAGAN: But at this point, it doesn’t look like that's going to happen.

PERLEZ: I think Condie Rice said yesterday in Washington that the United States would be leading the charge. She did not specify the role for the United Nations, but it was certainly a secondary one.

KAGAN: You have an interesting piece in today's "New York Times," which our viewers can also see online if they're not in the New York City area, talking about how this has been broken down into a number of ministries. Like, there is a ministry of industry, a ministry of information, very much like many of these Middle Eastern countries are set up.

But when I read your article and it talks about who is going in to run those ministries, I see American names. I don't see Iraqi names. How will that go over with the Iraqis?

PERLEZ: Well, I think this is an open question. The public line among the Americans is that the Americans are there to liaise with the Iraqis. But the fact of the matter is that the Iraqis who ran the ministries will have all been gone or will all have been de-Baathized (ph).

So the Americans will have to go in and basically run the ministries and try and find and urge some mid-level Iraqis to come up and emerge, not an easy task.

KAGAN: Not an easy task. And then there's the question of: Who will get the top job ultimately? There are a number of Iraqi expatriates who are out there, a number of opposition groups, but there doesn't seem to be one group all coming together or necessarily one leader coming to the top of that list.

PERLEZ: I think it will probably take some very fine American diplomacy to try and bring these Iraqi groups together into one smooth vehicle. I don't think anybody expects it to be smooth, but they'll have to try.

KAGAN: But even within the top notches of the U.S. government, there doesn't seem to be one man who is particularly -- if you look at the State Department they want one person. Even within the Bush administration there are different men who are gathering...


PERLEZ: Oh, absolutely.


PERLEZ: The Pentagon, despite what they say, is very much in favor of Chalabi, who they've been working with for many years. The State Department is not so keen. I think they feel that Mr. Chalabi has been out of the country for too long a time, and they have other problems. The State Department likes some other people, and there seems to be at this late date little resolution.

KAGAN: And then finally the question of timing. When does the U.S. government go ahead and put this next government in place? Do you have to wait until Saddam Hussein is out of power? Or, as we were just saying in that previous story, could you have two governments in Iraq at the same time?

PERLEZ: Well, I think that's a question that they're grappling with down with Mr. Garner's group right now. As I understand it, General Garner, of course, is a military man, and he would like to go sooner rather than later to create facts on the ground and to create the impression that America is there. But whether he'll be able to do that in more than an airport space, that's still an open question.

KAGAN: That's the question you will be following no doubt.

PERLEZ: Indeed.

KAGAN: Jane Perlez from "The New York Times," thank you so much.

If you are interested in what is next for Iraq past the battle plans, check out her article online,


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