February 23, 2004

Bremer puts Iraqi elections on hold amid speculation about his job:

"Yesterday, Mr Bremer blamed 'technical reasons' for delaying elections for up to 15 months, a verdict reached by members of a United Nations commission sent to Iraq. He said the country lacked a democratic and legislative framework."

It has also emerged that Robert Blackwill, a former US ambassador to India who is now a Middle East "troubleshooter" for Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, made a low-profile fact-finding visit to Iraq just over a week ago.

Mahmoud Osman, a leading Kurdish member of the governing council, said: "Blackwill came here and was asking many, many questions about what was going on. He was trying to see the situation and he was to report back to the president through Condoleezza Rice. No mention of the visit was made to the media.

"It is not clear that Bremer will be sidelined, but with Blackwill coming and going it may just mean that. If I were Mr Bush, I would be thoroughly reassessing the policy of the last 10 months to see what has gone wrong."

Seems like the internal White House squabbling continues, with Bush likely to favour Condi's man over Rummy's quagmire chief.


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