28 June 2004
Early Transfer of Iraqi Sovereignty Intended to Foil Militants
Armitage Says Iraq's interim government expressed
readiness for power
By handing over control of Iraq two days before the June 30 deadline,
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) officials sought to foil
any plans of militants to disrupt the transition of sovereignty
to the interim Iraqi government, said Deputy Secretary of State
In a June 28 radio interview with National Public Radio's Renee
Montagne, Armitage said, "The Iraqis, particularly the prime minister,
indicated that they were ready for it. It had a subsidiary benefit,
we thought, of perhaps somehow confusing the plans, or what we
believe are plans, to disrupt the proceedings by the anti-coalition
Armitage said that the transfer of sovereignty changes the dynamic
of the militant activity in Iraq.
"I think it's quite clear now that those who are fighting against
-- formally fighting against the coalition in Iraq are now fighting
against an Iraq[i] government and Iraqis themselves," the deputy
He added that the coalition members believe more Iraqis will be
prepared to resist the militants in defense of a sovereign Iraqi
Armitage said the arrival of the new U.S. Ambassador to Iraq,
John Negroponte, would likely be delayed for a brief period "to
make the point that John Negroponte is not Jerry Bremer II, that
the CPA, the former sovereign, has gone away."
Following is the transcript of Armitage's interview:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
June 28, 2004
Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage
On NPR with Renee Montagne
June 28, 2004
MS. MONTAGNE: The United States has transferred sovereignty to
an interim Iraqi government today, two days ahead of schedule.
The handover occurred during a small ceremony, and Paul Bremer,
the now former American administrator there, has already left the
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage joins me now from his
office at the State Department. Good morning.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Good morning, Ms. Montagne.
MS. MONTAGNE: Why, precisely, was the decision made to transfer
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: The Iraqis, particularly the prime
minister, indicated that they were ready for it. It had a subsidiary
benefit, we thought, of perhaps somehow confusing the plans, or
what we believe are plans, to disrupt the proceedings by the anti-coalition
MS. MONTAGNE: Did the U.S. have specific information about attacks?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, my colleagues and I have been
testifying on Capitol Hill for the past week saying we firmly expected
it. And there was a spike yesterday, we believe, a spike that would
continue over the next several days.
MS. MONTAGNE: Right, of course, that was a big date much played
on the media, so a good target, I would suppose, too.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, that was our feeling.
MS. MONTAGNE: The Administration has said repeatedly that the
insurgency will continue even after this transfer of power. What
effect will this new Iraqi government have on the violence, do
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I think it's quite clear now
that those who are fighting against -- formally fighting against
the coalition in Iraq are now fighting against an Iraq government
and Iraqis themselves. And we're making a bet, the coalition members
are making a bet that Iraqis will fight for Iraq, or they may be
somewhat less inclined to fight for coalition forces.
MS. MONTAGNE: And what role will U.S. troops play in this upcoming
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: We'll play the role of partner to the
new Iraqi government and their security forces and work hand-in-glove
with them to bring about a betterment of that scary situation.
MS. MONTAGNE: And they will be under American control, of course.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, all of our forces will absolutely
be under American control. Iraqi forces can opt to, for specific
purposes, be under the multinational force commander or separately.
MS. MONTAGNE: The Pentagon had been in charge of Iraq policy.
Now the State Department and the new U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte
is taking the lead for the U.S. Government. Does that mean that
Secretary Powell will have more influence on issues over there?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, the nature of question indicates
that he doesn't have influence and I would suggest that's not quite
the case. But clearly, the Department of State is taking the lead
now. We will be the dominant voice.
MS. MONTAGNE: And when does Ambassador John Negroponte arrive?
I mean, begin take up his, you know, his duties today?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Probably not today. We want a little
space between Mr. Bremer's departure and John's arrival, because
we want to make the point that John Negroponte is not Jerry Bremer
II, that the CPA, the former sovereign has gone away, and John
Negroponte will be the first ambassador from the United States
to the new Iraq.
MS. MONTAGNE: I'm just curious, what other countries knew of the
handover, that it would be early, that is, a couple of days?
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Secretary Powell and his colleagues
who were in Istanbul were making calls last night to all of the
coalition members, the foreign ministers and the defense ministers,
to let them know we had had extensive discussions for the last
two days with our British allies on this whole matter, and, of
course, with the Iraqis.
MS. MONTAGNE: Thanks very much.
DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Thank you, Ms. Montagne.
MS. MONTAGNE: Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.