The Government of Iraq
One of the subtle consequences of the formation of the Iraqi cabinet after months of tortuous negotiations is that it is now the internationally recognized legal and permanent goverment of Iraq. The BBC has a roundup of quotes which indicate this new status.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister: Our first step will be to invite the Iraqi prime minister or foreign minister to a meeting [of EU foreign ministers]. The EU troika (Germany, Britain and France) will travel to Baghdad when the security situation permits.
George W Bush, US President: Iraqis now have a fully constitutional government, marking the end of a democratic transitional process in Iraq that has been both difficult and inspiring. Iraq's new leaders know the period ahead will be filled with great challenge. But they also know that they - and their great country - will not face them alone. The United States and freedom-loving nations around the world will stand with Iraq.
The United Nations News Centre has this statement to the press.
20 May 2006 – United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and his senior envoy to Iraq today welcomed the announcement of the formation of the new Iraqi Government, and urged that the process be completed in order to consolidate stability.
“The Secretary-General wishes the new Government every success in confronting the enormous challenges facing Iraq,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement released in New York. “He hopes that the process of forming a broad-based and inclusive government will be completed as soon as possible, so that it will be able to quickly address the crucial issues of national reconciliation, security, the rule of law, respect for human rights, reconstruction and development.”
The Secretary-General also paid tribute to the “courage and determination that the Iraqi people have shown despite the ongoing violence,” urging them to seize the opportunity offered by the successful establishment of a broad-based and inclusive Government, and come together to support it and build the foundations of a united, peaceful and prosperous Iraq.
He reiterated the UN's commitment “to fully support the new Government and the people of Iraq,” a pledge echoed by his Special Representative, Ashraf Qazi.
That's not to say that Iraq's government is as stable as Canada's or Australia's or even at par, in terms of effective internal sovereignty, with a moderately successful Third World country. But it is apparently now as legally respectable as Mexico, Belgium or the Sudan. People used to tramping the woods are familiar with the concept of a "watershed", an often used metaphor whose real physical meaning is the contour of high ground that separates one river system from another. Anyone accustomed to staring at a topo map and having it pop out in his head in visualized 3D knows what this means. On one side of a watershed the water flows one way and on the other it flows the other way. From this point on, barring a convulsion in the landscape, America's role in Iraq will diminish and those of Iraqis increase, perhaps slowly like a rivulet beginning its long journey to the river basin, then with inexorably gathering strength until it is finally ignorant of its beginnings.
A great many problems remain. The Washington Post reported on the new government in these terms.
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- On a day heralded as a new beginning for Iraq, many Iraqis were divided on whether the newly inaugurated national unity government will be able to curtail sectarian violence in the country. "We have been waiting for a genuine change in Iraqi life since the fall of Saddam's regime in 2003, but the security ... has deteriorated from worse to worst," said Zakyaa Nasir, 52, in the southern city of Amarah. Her husband was an Iraqi soldier killed during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
The actual role of the United States in resolving these security issues will be great. But as a matter of principle, the troubles are now an internal matter of a sovereign Iraqi government; and whether or not the problems are successfully resolved is ultimately a challenge that Iraqis will have to meet. They may fail or succeed, but it will increasingly no longer be America's responsibility. Some will argue that it must needs remain America's responsibility, because the US toppled Saddam. Yet at some point in the process, if the words "Iraqi Government" or "sovereignty" are not to remain wholly fictive, the circumstance of US responsibility must diminish and those of the Iraqis increase. Legally at least, that time has come. At some imperceptible point on a ridge a watershed is reached; and water begins to flow another way.