Global Policy Forum

UN to Stay On in Embattled Iraq


By Haider Rizvi

Inter Press Service
August 11, 2005

The United Nations Security Council unanimously endorsed a U.S.-sponsored resolution seeking continued stay of the U.N. staff in that war-torn country for another year, even though the security situation is marred by intense armed resistance and remains volatile. "The United Nations should play a leading role in assisting the efforts of the Iraqi people and government in developing institutions for representative government, and promoting national dialogue and unity," the Council stated in the resolution, while reaffirming "the independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity" of Iraq.

This is the second time the Council has extended the mandate of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, also known as UNAMI, since it was established in August 2003, about six months after the U.S.-led invasion. "(The) Iraqi national dialogue, which UNAMI should assist, is crucial for Iraq's political stability and unity," said the Council, which intends to renew the mandate of the mission in one year or sooner, if requested by the Iraqi government.

Currently, as many as 260 U.N. security and civilian officials are based in Iraq. Their tasks range from coordinating various humanitarian operations to helping the political leadership draft a new constitution and organise elections by the end of this year. Although the U.N. may eventually add more of its staff to the Iraq mission, currently there is no indication of such a move. "Any expansion of the staff has to be weighed against the security situation," Annan's chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric told IPS. In a recent letter to the Security Council, Annan said that despite "severe operational and security constraints," there is expected to be addition in the number of officials this year with operational use of new facilities in Basra and Erbil, and increased reconstruction, development and humanitarian activities in these areas.

Kenzo Oshima, Japan's ambassador, who is also president of the 15-member Council this month, told reporters that members of the Council had been "comprehensively" briefed on UNAMI, as well as political, humanitarian and human rights issues, by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tuliameni Kalmoh. The Council noted that drafting of the constitution was "progressing" and hoped that the Iraqi leadership would be able to meet the Aug. 15 deadline. Oshima added that the members had also reaffirmed their support for the ongoing political transition in Iraq. The Council president, however, admitted that efforts to create a new constitution were taking place under "difficult circumstances" and that there were "some remaining differences among the broad spectrum of negotiators." But the Council, he said, was hopeful about the outcome of the ongoing efforts.

The U.S. welcomed the Council's decision. "The United States is very pleased with the Council's unanimous adoption of the resolution," John Bolton, the newly-appointed U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told reporters after the Council meeting. "It's a positive sign of cooperation in the Council." Iraq's envoy expressed similar sentiments. "The relevance of this resolution is that it is unanimously adopted," said Samir Sumaidaie. "There is now complete agreement on the need for the U.N. to continue to be involved in the transitional process in Iraq." Despite difficulties with the security situation in Iraq, he noted that there was "willingness on part of the U.N. to be more involved locally and employ more local staff."

With the Aug. 15 deadline to finalise the constitution fast approaching, both New York and Baghdad saw intense diplomatic activity this week. Last Tuesday, the 15-member Security Council held a closed door meeting for consultations on the situation in Iraq. The same day Annan's special envoy in Baghdad, Ashraf Qazi, held talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and other political leaders on the question of the U.N. role in the preparation of elections due in December. "He is doing excellent job. He has managed to win the trust of everybody," Sumaidaie said of Qazi's efforts in Iraq. "He has acted as a catalyst for discussions."

Seeing no sign of exhaustion in the ranks of Iraqi resistance, last month U.S. military officials hinted that it might be possible to withdraw 20,000 to 30,000 of the 138,000 U.S. military troops by next spring if the Iraqi leadership managed to succeed in finalising a constitution and holding elections. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, nearly 2,000 US troops have been killed and some 25,000 wounded. The war has taken the lives of more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.

In his letter, Annan said: "The mandate UNAMI can be fully implemented only in close cooperation with the Iraqis, and with the continued active support of the Security Council and the international community."

More Information on Iraq
More Information on the UN Role in Post-War Iraq
More Information on Iraq's New Government


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.