Coalition Officials Expect Violence to Continue in Iraq
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 15, 2004 Coalition officials expect more violence leading up to and after the June 30 handover of authority in Iraq, officials in Baghdad said today.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq, said "mixed intelligence" reports regarding post-June 30 Iraq suggests there will be continued violence, "with that violence directed at trying to demonstrate that the new government is shaky, wobbly and won't hang in there."
In the meantime, he said, the coalition forces will continue military operations, and "continue to assess that intelligence (and) continue to stand ready for that additional violence along with our Iraqi security partners. So our assessment is whether it happens or not, we'll be prepared to handle it," he said.
Dan Senor, senior Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman, said Iraqi government leaders have been poised for the expected aftermath. "If you look at the statements made by Prime Minister (Ayad) Allawi in recent days," he noted, "this is a government that seems prepared for the fact that they will be tested post-June 30."
"Terrorists and the Baathist die-hards that are looking to wreak havoc in this country probably have every good reason to test the will of the new government," Senor continued. "And I think the statements from the new leadership have been quite strong in that regard: that they will do everything they can to beat back this terrorist threat and not allow it to throw this path to democracy off track."
Another post-June 30 problem the new leadership must contend with is what to do with deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces captured Saddam in December, but no formal charges have been brought against him.
Senor said President Bush was quite clear when he said Saddam would be brought to justice. But, he added, that justice would be handled by Iraqis. "And our commitment to that remains," Senor emphasized.
Under international law, Senor explained, the United States cannot hand Saddam over to a "non-sovereign" government. A catch to the situation is that Iraq's government will not be "fully sovereign" until June 30, he explained. Also, he said, the United States does not have to hand Saddam over until active hostilities have ended. "Hostilities," he said, "unfortunately continue."
A special Iraqi tribunal is still in the process of building its case in determining how to charge Saddam, Senor said. "They are hiring investigative judges, they are hiring prosecutors, so to speak, they are bringing on international consultants, they are in the lead in building the case against Saddam," he explained. "And once they build that case, of course, and establish all the evidence, they will file the formal charges."
The coalition's goal, Senor said, is to get Saddam into Iraqi hands as soon as possible. "We expect sometime after June 30 to be able to do that," he added.