Tension has been rising for some time between an increasingly assertive interim governing council and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Frustration on the part of the council with the US became evident when Ankara succumbed to US pressure and agreed on 7 October to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq. Kurdish Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that for neighbouring countries to establish a military presence would be inflammatory. The Turkish soldiers will work in the central region and not in the Kurdish-controlled north. The proposed force of 10,000 troops would make the Turkish presence the third largest after those of the US and Britain.

At the Security Council, the US draft resolution tabled on 2 October drew a sharp rebuke from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In spite of Washington’s efforts to increase emphasis on the role of the UN in reconstruction to secure international military and financial assistance, Annan complained that the draft failed to take on board his concerns about CPA control over the political transition. Opposition among Security Council members is such that the Bush administration may not even seek a vote on the resolution.

Of equally grave concern to an administration facing elections in 2004 are problems on the domestic front. The White House budget request for $20,300 million for Iraq’s reconstruction is being picked apart as it makes its way through Congress. Senators are objecting to what they regard as excessively generous contributions towards such tasks as updating phone numbers, establishing postcodes and modernising the media.

David Kay, head of the task force charged with hunting for evidence of illicit weapons programmes, presented a three-month progress report on 2 October. No evidence has been found to date of a revival of chemical or nuclear weapons programmes.