by Jim Addington


Many questions about Iraq, but few answers

It has proved easy to gauge how genuine is the return of sovereignty apparently legitimised by the latest UN resolution The verdict? Little has changed for the better, much is worse, the occupation goes on - this time with the complete approval of the UN Security Council. Paragraph after paragraph shows that the UN, represented by only 15 of the 191 member states, has virtually sold out to the US and Britain - somehow supported by France and Germany. Every member of the Council voted in favour.

The interim government which replaces the Iraqi Governing Council, chosen by UN representative Brahimi with American support, will rule for only seven months. It is charged with "refraining from taking any actions affecting Iraq's destiny beyond the limited interim period before an elected Transitional government assumes office...". Its powers have been even more circumscribed by Paul Bremer's 70 declarations which are set in stone until there is an elected Iraq government 'accepted by the international community'. This ruling was also part of an earlier resolution which covers the presence of the US-led force until an acceptable, elected, government is in place.

With the ink barely dry on the UN resolution two Iraq ministers in the interim government have already been attacked. On Wednesday 9th June the health minister, Ammar al-Safar, was fired on but his guards fought the attackers off. Two days later Bassam Qubba, deputy foreign minister and former acting chief of the Iraqi mission to the UN in New York, was killed by assailants. How many will survive until next year's election?

The resolution purports to return Iraqi sovereignty but the successors to the Coalition Provisional Authority (the illegal invaders) now designated as leaders of the Multinational Force, are still in control. Time after time Colin Powell, the hawk masquerading as a dove, has made it clear that whatever the promises given to the interim government US forces will do what they want, especially if they come under attack. They will not be likely to wait to ask permission from a non-elected group of CIA selected ministers. The horrific events in Falluja will not be unique.

Earlier post-conflict UN resolutions noted that the aggressors were to be described as the occupiers. This was in order for the provisions of Geneva Conventions to be observed. The preamble to the latest resolution, No. 1546, welcomes "the willingness of the multinational

force to continue to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability ...and to provide security for the United Nations presence in Iraq...".  The resolution also "welcomes that, by 30 June 2004, the occupation will end and the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist,

and that Iraq will assert its full sovereignty" This is blatantly, untrue. We are told that the recognition of sovereignty is necessary so that the interim government can make financial decisions on the part of Iraq. On 16th Jane no oil was being pumped to north and south terminals because of sabotage attacks and thus no income was being generated

Not one US or UK soldier will leave on 30th June, in fact both governments are busy reinforcing their occupying forces. The US is to build several massive fortress bases with which to control Iraq and the Middle East. Sovereignty, such as it is, now resides in a group of expatriate Iraqis selected by UN representative, Brahimi, with the aid of the occupying forces. It is this non-elected group that has asked the Americans to stay. The non-elected United States military force, self-appointed as leader of the Multinational Force, is the real ruler of Iraq possessing the power of life and death over members of the interim government and able to control every decision.

In Para. 10 the force has been given "authority to take all necessary measures". In Para. 13 the resolution "Notes the intention" (in a letter written by US government) "to create a distinct entity under unified command of the multinational force..."

What sort of security will the US-led force provide? The resolution accepts the offer of a brigade (about 14,000 strong) to protect the UN representatives who will be helping to prepare for elections throughout Iraq next January. Questions abound. Where will UN staff be housed, will they be named, will they be free to travel throughout Iraq? Bearing in mind that the UN's task is to prepare for civil society elections they will only be able to operate where peace reigns; this seems unlikely.

The final note by the Security Council says it "decides to remain seized of the matter". The UN Charter imposes a bar on a General Assembly discussion of an issue while the SC is involved. However there is no barrier to a discussion of its capitulation to US and UK pressure. All that is required for the Assembly to discuss the behaviour of other member states is for a resolution carrying the support of more than half of its members.

Jim Addington is Chair of the UK organisation Action for UN renewal