Garner advocated federalized Iraq

April 3, 2008 at 2:20 PM

ERBIL, Iraq, April 3 (UPI) -- Jay Garner, the first U.S. administrator in Iraq following the ouster of Saddam Hussein, likened the Kurdish region to a potential federalized Iraq.

Garner said in an interview with The Kurdish Globe that his assessment of the political situation in Iraq led him to believe an Iraq with a "soft" central government with stronger provincial districts would thrive.

"I thought over time one of two things would happen if we did that; either the federal districts would grow together into one unified federation with the stronger central government, or they would go on their on way. Both ways are democratic," Garner said.

Garner, who Washington replaced with L. Paul Bremer as the civilian administrator of post-war Iraq, said he proposed in 2003 a federal system in Iraq to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, but was told it was premature to hold such discussions.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and the head of the Kurdish Democratic Party, Massoud Barzani, met with Garner in 2003 to discuss the political future of Iraq.

Garner said in the Globe Talabani urged him to meet with Shiite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, noting, "It is better to have (Hakim) with you inside the tent than outside the tent."

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