Occupier of a Prime Minister’s Chair

BAGHDAD — The prime minister is following in the footsteps of the last president. The rule of Ayad Allawi, the U.S. appointed interim prime minister of Iraq, is now more in the style of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein than a leader of a supposedly democratic state.

Most Iraqis had celebrated the overthrow of the regime of Saddam Hussein. But under what has developed into a brutal and bloody occupation people are turning against the interim prime minister as they turned against Saddam.

One of Allawi’s earliest moves after his appointment was to form a new version of the feared secret police in Iraq. The Economist reported that Allawi’s rivals accused him of ”recruiting former torturers to man a new apparatus of oppression.”

In July Paul McGeogh of the Sydney Morning Herald reported that two eyewitnesses saw Allawi execute six people at the security centre in the al-Amadiyah district of Baghdad. The men had been detained for allegedly attacking U.S. forces two weeks before the handover of power.

The appointed interim prime minister has instituted martial law, threatened to detain journalists, and banned the Arab channel al-Jazeera from reporting within Iraq. Allawi’s minister of justice has brought back the death penalty and spoken of chopping off the hands and heads of those described as insurgents.

Now comes the siege of Fallujah. At a refugee camp in Baghdad filled with families from the besieged city, anger erupts at the mention of Allawi’s name.

”Ayad Allawi says we are his family,” said Mohammad Ali, a 53-year-old refugee wounded by U.S. bombs in his home in Fallujah. ”Can you attack your family, Allawi? Do you attack your own family, Allawi?”

Allawi is a traitor to the people of Iraq, said Dr. Um Mohammed who works at a hospital in Baghdad. ”He is an American puppet who enjoys the killing of Iraqis.” A trader in central Baghdad Abdel Hakim Abdulla said Allawi has ”never made a decision that benefits Iraqis.”

Anger is building up against Allawi also over the role he played before he was appointed interim prime minister. He is the man many hold responsible for providing fraudulent intelligence that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States.

His now discredited statements to U.S. intelligence that Saddam Hussein had links to the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11 were used to justify the invasion of Iraq. This had shaken his credibility amongst Iraqis from the beginning.

The right-wing Daily Telegraph of London published a ”newly discovered” document from Allawi Dec. 14 last year. Allawi, who was then a member of the Iraqi Governing Council stated that the mastermind of the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks Mohammad Atta had been trained in Iraq with support from Saddam Hussein.

This fraudulent information was cited by U.S. intelligence as compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein had contacts with al-Qaeda. It was cited as justification for the failing occupation of Iraq.

A second part of the memo also believed to have been provided by Allawi alleged shipment of uranium from Niger to Iraq. This is another claim that has been proved false.

Allawi was reported by the International Herald Tribune to have said that Saddam Hussein had stashed billions of dollars in banks around the world. No evidence of these billions has emerged.

Allawi again was said again to have provided the ‘intelligence’ in a British government dossier that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which could be made operational in 45 minutes, according to a report in the New York Times May 29 this year. This ‘intelligence’ has been acknowledged to be false.

Allawi, a Shia Muslim, was ”unanimously nominated” to the post of interim prime minister May 28 by the U.S.-appointed former Iraqi Governing Council.

Adam Daifallah wrote in the New York Sun that Allawi heads a group comprising primarily former Baathist associates of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and ”has received funding from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency of the United States) and has unsuccessfully worked with American intelligence for years to oust Saddam through coup attempts.”

Born in Baghdad in 1946 into a well-known business family, Allawi became a member of the Baath party after it rose to power. He left Iraq in 1971 to go to university in London, and did not return to his home country until just after the U.S.-led invasion last year. (END/2004)