ABU DHABI Ñ Iraqi opposition groups are meeting in Baghdad to
discuss the future of the country.
The groups will focus on the formation of an interim government that
would run Iraq until the country is stabilized. Up to 400 Iraqi opposition
representatives are expected to attend Monday's session, arranged by the
United States, with some of the members warning that the process of
stabilization could take years.
"The coalition forces are still present in the Iraqi arena," Abdul Aziz
Al Hakim, deputy chairman of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution
in Iraq, said. "This presence requires collaboration and patience to achieve
[On Sunday, four U.S. soldiers were injured in an ambush in Baghdad as
they were conducting a civil affairs mission, Middle East Newsline reported. A statement by U.S. Central
Command said the soldiers were attacked when their vehicle stopped at a
The United States said it will run Iraq until the country is deemed
self-rule. No deadline has been set as anti-U.S. unrest grows in Iraq.
"Iraqis will set the agenda and discuss the vital issues," U.S. Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said on Friday. "This should accelerate the
dialogue and transition to the establishment of an interim Iraqi authority."
"Coalition efforts to defeat regime pockets of resistance are proving
successful, but this latest incident is evidence that despite the
significant decrease in active military operations, dangers are still
present," Central Command said.
Iraqi opposition leaders tied to the West said their toughest challenge
will be that of Iran, which has been mobilizing Shi'ite clerics to oppose
any U.S.-aligned democracy in Iraq. The leaders said Iranian ruling clerics
have been financing a movement against the United States in an aim to turn
Iraq into a fundamentalist Shi'ite state.
On April 8, Shi'ite cleric Khadem Hussein Haeri, an Iraqi native based
in the Iranian city of Qom, issued a ruling that Shi'ite clerics in Iraq
must seize power immediately. The edict called on the Iraqi clerics to work
against the U.S. presence in Iraq and take over all civilian services in