IT is to be hoped that the preparations for the creation of an interim Iraqi government by 30 June will be conducted in a more orderly and acceptable way than was Friday's announcement of the appointment of Iyad Allawi as its prime minister. For several hours there was confusion between Baghdad, Washington and the United Nations in New York because the announcement had been expected from Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN's special envoy, who had gone to Iraq at the special request of the US administration to identify suitable candidates for the senior posts of the government. The US called on Mr Brahimi because its own most senior representative in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, had found that influential Iraqis did not want to speak to him about people who might be suitable for these jobs. So the UN agreed to help and for some weeks Mr Brahimi has been undertaking extensive consultations with representatives of all sections of Iraqi society. He was due to give his recommendations to the Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on Friday. Instead the UN was upstaged by the US-appointed Iraq Governing Council, which said it had chosen Mr Allawi. After some confusion Mr Brahimi and the UN in New York responded diplomatically but made clear that “This is not the way we expected this to happen”.

Iyad Allawi's name is believed to have been one of three on Mr Brahimi's list for prime minister but would not have been the first choice because of his known links to America's CIA and British intelligence during his 20 years of exile from Saddam Hussein's Iraq. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that, having asked the UN for help, the US decided to step in and influence events at the last moment.


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