What happened and what next in Iraq 

If you have some time, I recommend reading the rather long New Yorker story about how a secret program of the Pentagon that was designed for use against high-ranking Al Qaeda operatives came to be applied to the general prison population in Iraq. There is some rather plausible discussion of a plan to use sexual humiliation against Arab males – I always had difficulties believing that the soldiers shown on those pictures had the sophistication to develop these arrangements. So far the Pentagon is denying the New Yorker story, but I don’t believe this will be the end of it.

What should be done now? I think that the US military control over Iraq, although illegitimate, is at this point unavoidable. But everything beyond the security aspect must be taken away from US control as quickly as possible, and handed over to the UN. I believe that a UN interim mediation role will have more credibility with Iraqis than the US-appointed “independent Iraqi government” that will be instituted on 1 July, wheras anything that is directly associated with the US government politically is completely discredited at this point, in the eyes of not only, but most importantly, the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi population. I don’t believe that the US would accept such a handover of political control to the UN, I’m only saying they should. The political control should be able to veto any measure that the US military control proposes, something that will not be the case after 1 July according to current plans. This would provide at least some chance to get the necessary message across to the muslim world, which the French/German camp has stressed from the beginning of the war against terror: that non-extremist muslims will get all support from the West – politically and economically - at the same time as extremists and supporters of violence or terrorism will be persecuted across the world.

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