Saturday, 11 August 2007

UNI: UN in Iraq

While Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) remains a strong negative — albeit over-hyped — actor in the country, maybe the UN will be a positive one.

A united force in Mesopotamia?
About time the Security Council took action to widen the United Nation's reach in Iraq...

With a show of 15 hands, resolution 1770 was adopted unanimously at the UN Security Council, paving the way for a wider, political role for the UN in Iraq and a bigger presence inside the war-torn country.

The number of staff will only increase from 65 to 95 - a small but very symbolic step for the world body, which withdrew most of its 600 staff from Baghdad four years ago, in the wake of a massive attack on its headquarters.

Under the new resolution, sponsored by the US and the UK, the UN will now be authorised to help the Iraqi government to promote national reconciliation and regional dialogue on issues such as border security, energy and refugees.

It will also help settle disputes over internal boundaries - all tasks in which the US is seen to have failed so far in Iraq.

The Iraqis have welcomed the resolution, but said they realise the onus was on them as well.

This is relatively good news for Iraq. Borders, energy, and refugees are some of the biggest issues facing Iraq. They're also complex and often multinational issues that need to be dealt with on an international level, not by an incompetent occupier seen as imperialistic and out to steal Iraq's oil wealth (I think that notion was disproven long ago). Iraq's borders is a matter of security; foreign extremists and terrorists are seeping in through the borders daily to worsen the situation in Iraq. Energy is a political and economic issue. Iraq has many refugees; more and more flee the country every day and they are becoming a major focus for humanitarian groups.

Terrorists crossing Iraq's borders into the country, a lack of economic progress and energy insecurity, and the instability in Iraq and bordering nations caused by refugees (which also breeds extremism) all combine to make a very volatile and dangerous Iraq. All three fuel Iraq's civil war and each has its own area: security, economy/politics, and humanitarian. There is no magic fix, but the UN will certainly be able to work those issues out better than America. In addition, nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran launching proxy wars in Iraq and supporting terrorist movements may be dealt with better by the international diplomatic community — in conjunction with involved parties — than by the US.

Some questions about this symbolic move:
  • Will it increase international support and legitimacy for the US-led occupation?
  • Will the US really do its job in protecting the UN staff; will fighters target it or let it be to help their own political image?
  • Is it really as important symbolically as it seems?
  • Will it pave the way for more diplomatic progress on war-torn Iraq?
  • Will there be more expansion?
  • Are peacekeeping operations coming soon? Whose backing would they have? Is there enough support, money, and troops for an effective peacekeeping force? (The best case for the above question would be if peoples who Iraqis feel little animosity towards took a large role in the operations. Muslim-majority states like Indonesia were apparantly open to the option a while back, but since the situation on the ground in Iraq, especially Baghdad, has worsened, and America remains defiant of its occupation, that option is shrinking.)

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