Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Things Not Going Swimmingly

Viceroy Bremer I is running back to Washington.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, is returning unexpectedly to Washington for high level consultations amid continued frustration with the performance of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, administration officials said Tuesday.

The Bush administration is considering changes in the structure and timing of Iraq's transition self-governance, including a new Iraqi constitution and elected government, said an administration official involved in Iraq policy in Washington.

In September, Bremer outlined a seven-step plan for Iraqi sovereignty. "It's beginning to be realized that it's not going to follow that path," the official said. "And we need some kind of provisional government that we can give some kind of authority to. The whole political piece is a work in progress. He's got a lot of work to do."

Bremer's mission will be to "consult, consult, consult," particularly on Iraq's political structure, the official said.

One issue under discussion is the sequence of restoring sovereignty to Iraq. The Bush administration appears to be backing away from its earlier insistence that a constitution must be written and ratified by nationwide referendum before Iraqis gain significant sovereignty.