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April 14, 2004

Here's another possible source of the US-Brit friction...

...alluded to in my post below. From the Free Iran blogsite.

British overtures to Iran set allies at odds By Alec Russell in Washington April 15, 2004

British officials in Iraq have all but ignored President George Bush's
plan to foster a new democracy in the country in favour of their own
agenda, according to an American former official in Baghdad's interim

His comments mark the first time an official has publicly let the mask
of co-operation between the White House and Whitehall slip.

They also highlight the difficulties facing Tony Blair at his meeting with Mr Bush tomorrow when the two leaders will try to plot the transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, which is due in 11 weeks.

Michael Rubin, who resigned from the Pentagon 10 days ago after
returning from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad,
gave a stark account of fundamental divisions between British and
American officials over how to run Iraq.

He suggested that British officials clearly had little interest in
pursuing the White House vision of a democratic Iraq, a keystone of its
foreign policy, and were too "soft" in confronting dissent.

He also said many US officials had been startled at their British
counterparts' attempts to capitalise on their presence in southern Iraq
for a "freelance" fostering of ties with Iran, one of Washington's most
implacable enemies.

"That is a major policy decision for the White House," Mr Rubin said.
"It should not be made in Basra" - the centre of the British zone of
influence. "We got a sense that Britons were using the CPA as an
outreach to Iran, which was not the Americans' intention."

Tensions between British and US officials have long been hinted at, not
least between Paul Bremer, the US proconsul, and Sir Jeremy Greenstock,
Britain's former envoy to Baghdad who left - apparently in some
frustration - last month.

One provisional authority insider said: "There was an understanding in
the CPA that Bremer and Greenstock didn't like each other. It
personified the differences between the two views. Greenstock thought
Bremer was naive; Bremer thought Greenstock was pursuing the wrong

Mr Rubin did not comment directly on relations between the two men.
"Bremer is following the President's agenda. And, in general, most
British diplomats still don't agree with the President's agenda."

Mr Rubin was an adviser on the governance group of the provisional
authority until March. He is now an analyst at the American Enterprise
Institute, a conservative think-tank and arguably the ideological
room of Mr Bush's Administration.

He said he and other US officials had been deeply concerned by the
softly-softly approach of the British to former Baathists, who
Washington felt should be excluded from positions of authority, and
to Iranian groups.

"When I came in to Iraq back in July . . . it was clear that the US was
serious about democracy, the Brits less so."

The Telegraph, London