US Starts Building New Iraq Army

The loud chatter swirling around the stalled Middle East road map muffled the real news emerging from this year’s World Economic Forum assembled on June 22 at Shuneh on the Jordanian coast of the Dead Sea. debkafile‘s exclusive sources report some of these items.
For Washington, the focus of the gathering of 1,400 foreign ministers and businessmen – brought to the fore mainly in behind the scenes conversations – was that the United States has big plans for Iraq and is forging ahead in its drive for a new Middle East.
Two high-powered Americans attended the event to underscore these points: Paul Bremer, civil administrator of Iraq, and Liz Cheney, assistant secretary of state for the Near East, 36-year old daughter of the vice president.
Bremer informed anyone who wanted to listen, including UN secretary general Kofi Annan and European foreign ministers, that Washington has not been sidetracked by the guerrilla attacks which have taken the lives of 50 US troops in the weeks since the war ended. The plague will be overcome but, in the meantime, two key plans have taken form:
— On July 15 , the US administration begins building the New Iraqi Army, staring with the 1st Brigade of 5,000 armed men who will serve under Iraqi officers. Conscription of 40,000 men is targeted by the end of this year, roughly one tenth of the size of Saddam Hussein’s armed forces at the outset of the war in March 2003.
2. On the political side, Bremer has selected 25 to 30 prominent Iraqis to serve on a national council to select ministers for a future Iraqi government and create commissions to frame a new Iraqi constitution.
Ms Cheney turned up at the World Economic Forum not only with a plan of action but a $100 million budget to support it: The money is there to promote democracy and advance women’s rights in the Middle East.
The message conveyed by the presence of the two American officials was beamed most of all at Arab ears. Their representatives poured out a heap of anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic invective at the current World Economic Forum, but they are warned that the days of Arab dictatorships are numbered and democracy is around the corner. In future, US dollars will be spent on building democratic regimes rather than propping up corrupt tyrannies.
Indicatively, the only Palestinian leader received by Ms Cheney at the forum was the new finance minister, Salim Fayyad, who was appointed last year at Washington’s insistence to institute proper financial management for the Palestinian budget and halt the flow of revenue to the financing of terror and corrupt practices.
An important disclosure also came from the forum’s host, King Abdullah II, who reported in quiet conversations that Jordan has begun sending detachments of police officers to organize internal security in Iraq’s main cities and take command of local Iraqi police forces.
The Israeli ministers attending the meeting were received by the king and discussed bilateral issues including joint projects, but their attempts to obtain contracts in Iraq were diplomatically turned aside by Jordanian and American officials.

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