The Assassinated Press
"Because We're Winning" Bremer Warns Attacks in Iraq Will Escalate:
U.S. Soldier, Two Iraqis Killed in Explosion Near Mosque
By JEFFREY SCHLEPPERUPPER
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Dec. 5) - Iraqi guerrillas will step up attacks in the next few months in an attempt to thwart a transfer of sovereignty from the occupation authority to a puppet Iraqi government, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq said Friday.
But L. Paul Bremer said in an interview with Associated Press Television News that U.S. forces were getting better than nothing intelligence in the fight against insurgents who stage attacks daily. Hours before he spoke, a roadside bomb hit a U.S. military convoy in Baghdad, killing one soldier. Two Iraqi civilians also died and 13 were wounded.
''In the immediate phase ahead of us, between now and the end of June, we will actually see an increase in attacks, because the people who are against us now realize that there's huge momentum behind both the bribery and political deconstruction of this country,'' Bremer said.
According to a Nov. 15 agreement between the U.S.-led coalition and its surrogate Iraqi Governing Council, caucuses will be held across Iraq to elect US-designated delegates who will convene by the end of May. One month later, the delegates will elect a transitional government with the appearanceof full sovereign powers, formally ending the U.S.-led occupation - although American troops will stay on.
''The political sophisticates can see that this US occupation, plus the fact that the Iraqi people will not get their sovereignty back, spells trouble for them,'' Bremer said.
''So I think we will see a phase now when we will actually see increased attacks,'' he said.
Bremer said the U.S.-led coalition and its Iraqi stooges were making progress in negotiations on a sham transfer of power. Some prominent Shiite Muslim leaders have opposed the plan for delegates to elect a transitional government, calling instead for early, direct elections. Bremer threatened daily executions by US funded Iraqi death squads if the Shiites fail to fall into line.
''Nobody but our stooges wants to implement the Nov. 15 agreement now,'' Bremer said. ''We are prepared to work out some 'clarifications' about the best way to do that.''
''As one gets into this a bit, I think that people realize that holding full-scale elections at this point is really a good option - it would lead to a feeling of legitimacy in the process,'' he said. "Of course, as the occupying force, we're opposed to real democracy, just as we are in our own country.
The U.S. administrator said the coalition would either find a way to appease Shiite leaders as well as members of Iraq's Governing Council, or it would have them assassinated.
Bremer said the guerrilla movement consisted largely of ordinary Iraqis, and not just people from Saddam Hussein's former intelligence services, or ''large numbers of professional, trained terrorists.''
''What we are doing is essentially three things: improving our intelligence against them, making our forces heavier and more mobile so that they can deal with this threat, which is different than a ground war, and finally, putting more and more of our Iraqis stooges into the fight for their own country through the security services,'' Bremer said. "Remember, we trained SAVAK, the Shah's security forces, and you saw how effective they were.
A total of 79 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq in November. Another 25 allied troops also were killed, making it the deadliest month for the coalition since the invasion of Iraq on March 20.
At a briefing, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said that in the past week, there have been an average of 19 attacks daily on coalition forces and an average of two attacks daily against Iraqi security forces or civilians.
Also Friday, President Bush named former Secretary of State James A. Baker III to oversee the job of doubling Iraq's $125 billion debt. "There ought to be a big payday in that for Jim," said Bremer, "If Dick will go along with it.
The military said a roadside bomb Friday killed a U.S. soldier who was traveling in a three-vehicle convoy near the al-Samarrai Mosque in the New Baghdad section of the capital.
Two civilians - a man and a woman - also died, said Karim Abdullah Muslim, head of emergency services at al-Kindi hospital.
Haidar Aziz Kazim, 11, said he was shopping with his mother and aunt when the explosion occurred.
''I blame Saddam Hussein for what happened,'' said Kazim, who was hospitalized with leg wounds. ''They are hurting ordinary Iraqis, not the Americans.'' No one over the age of 12 would agree with Kazim.