Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and Post-War Governance [Updated April 23, 2003]   [open pdf - 116KB]

"In his 2002 and 2003 State of the Union messages, President Bush characterized Iraq as a grave potential threat to the United States because of its refusal to abandon its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs as required by U.N. Security Council resolutions and the potential for it to transfer WMD to terrorist groups. Since September 2002, the President has said that unless Iraq fully disarms in cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors, the United States would lead a coalition to achieve that disarmament militarily. U.S. officials have made clear that this would include the ouster of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein's regime. On March 17, 2003, the United States launched "Operation Iraqi Freedom," a war effort to disarm Iraq and change its regime. The regime fell on April 9. The character of the government that would replace Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, and the exact process by which that government will be chosen, are yet to be determined. Some Administration officials reportedly had hoped that major military and governmental defections from the Hussein regime would serve as the core of a successor government. However, no senior Hussein regime figures defected, and the Bush Administration is expecting established opposition groups and emerging local leaders to form the core of a new regime. Some of the pre-existing disputes and schisms among the various anti-Hussein groups are already beginning to break out into a post-war power struggle, and there is a debate among Iraqi groups over how great a role the United States should play in the process of choosing a successor government."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL31339
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