August 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 July 2006
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action
On 11 August, the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) will expire. The Council is expected to approve a technical renewal of UNAMI for an additional 12 months. Detailed substantive discussion is unlikely.

Council Dynamics
The Iraqi government would like the UN to play a more prominent role in Iraq. The US supports that objective.  However, although most Council members agree, the Secretariat remains reluctant to commit more personnel in Iraq without better security guarantees.

Some Council members are concerned about issues such as the timetable for withdrawal of the Multinational Force (MNF) and issues of immunity.  However these seem unlikely to be pushed.

The majority of Council members are keen to maintain a consensus and avoid the reappearance of tensions that were present within the Council in March 2003. It is therefore likely that the renewal of UNAMI in August will be uncontroversial.

Key Issues
One issue likely to be discussed is how to encourage the UN to boost its participation in the economic and social development of Iraq. Council members will want to hear the views of the Secretary-General.

The International Compact for Iraq, which is a five-year plan involving Iraq’s neighbours and foreign powers to revive the Iraqi economy, is loosely based on a similar arrangement for Afghanistan. In June 2006 the UN Secretary-General agreed to an Iraqi request for strong UN support for launching the compact. The compact process was launched on 27 July and is being co-chaired by the government and the UN.  However, the compact has faced some disagreement over the size of its membership and the scope of its mandate (especially the incorporation of policy and security). It seems that the Council may include a reference to the compact in its resolution on UNAMI.

In June human rights NGOs called on the Security Council to ensure full accountability for international humanitarian law violations by the MNF and therefore reconsider its decision to extend the immunity from legal proceedings for abuses by the MNF. The Iraqi human rights minister also indicated recently that immunity from local law for coalition troops should end. Although that issue was not raised during the consultations in June, it seems some Council members may address it during the UNAMI mandate consultations in August.

Recent Developments
The death on 7 June, in a US air strike, of the prominent insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, believed to be the leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, was widely reported as a success for the coalition forces.  This followed on from other positive developments such as the Iraqi elections and the formation of the new government.  However, in recent weeks the cycle of sectarian killing has intensified markedly.

In mid-June Italy started to withdraw troops from Iraq. Full withdrawal is scheduled for autumn. Japan also withdrew its forces.

On 15 June, in accordance with resolution 1637, the MNF mandate was reviewed by the Council, and authorised until 31 December 2006, as requested by Iraq’s government. The arrangements for the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) were also reviewed and extended.

On 16 June, the Secretary-General agreed to provide support in developing the International Compact for Iraq. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch-Brown was designated as the point-person in New York for this issue. Malloch-Brown was in Baghdad on 5 and 6 July, where he met Iraq’s President, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister to discuss the international compact.

On 25 June four Russian diplomats, who had been abducted on 3 June, were killed by a terrorist group. Russia requested an emergency session of the Security Council and a presidential statement strongly condemning the killings was adopted on 29 June.

  • On 25 June, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced a national reconciliation plan in order to reduce sectarian violence. The 24-point plan outlines:
    The disarmament of militias and strengthening of Iraqi security forces ahead of a takeover from coalition forces;
  • Amnesty for some insurgents not involved in terrorist acts, war crimes or crimes against humanity. Hundreds of prisoners have already been released;
  • A review of the treatment of Baath party members forced out of public life after the US-led invasion in 2003;
  • Negotiations with the US-led coalition to prevent violations of human and civil rights in military operations;
  • Compensation for those harmed by the violence and for victims of the Saddam Hussein’s regime;
  • Measures to prevent human rights violations and to have a more efficient judiciary system;
  • Measures to improve public services; and
  • Formation of a National Council for the Reconciliation and National Dialogue Plan, including representatives of government and parliament as well as religious authorities and tribes.

Underlying Problems
Insurgent and sectarian militia attacks against civilians remains the largest problem in Iraq.

The UNAMI human rights report covering the period from 1 May to 30 June 2006 stated that the number of civilians killed every month keeps rising; now reaching around 100 per day. The report also pointed out that, despite considerable efforts by the security forces to foster peace, on occasion they have committed human rights violations. The report also described military operations performed by the MNF which resulted in the loss of civilian lives. Investigations by the US of the 19 November 2005 Haditha incident and other allegations of serious crimes by coalition military personnel are underway.

Although there is criticism of the immunity granted to coalition troops, the arrangements between the MNF and the Iraqi interim government on the legal status of MNF forces were set out in an exchange of letters. (These were annexed to resolution 1546.)  It is common practice under Status of Forces Agreements that foreign troops cannot be tried under local law for criminal violations.

Although Maliki’s reconciliation plan has received immediate endorsement from the leader of the biggest Sunni coalition, Adnan al-Dulaimi, aspects of the plan remain uncertain, particularly regarding the extent of the proposed amnesty:

The Iranian government has been accused by the US of training, equipping and directing Shiite Muslim insurgents operating in Iraq.

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  •  S/RES/1637 (8 November 2005) extended the mandate of the MNF, the arrangements for depositing proceeds of export sales from petroleum and natural gas in the DFI, and the arrangements of the IAMB until 31 December 2006.
  • S/RES/1619 (11 August 2005) extended UNAMI for 12 months.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/29 (29 June 2006) condemned in the strongest possible terms the assassination by terrorists of the members of a Russian diplomatic mission in Iraq.
  • S/PRST/2006/24 (24 May 2006) welcomed the inauguration of the Iraqi government.
  • S/PRST/2006/8 (14 February 2006) welcomed the results of the elections.
 Secretary-General’s Latest Report on UNAMI
Selected Letters
  • S/2006/512 (12 July 2006) was a letter from Russia including the decision and the statement of the State Duma of the Russian Federal Assembly in connection with the killing of Russian citizens in Iraq.
  • S/2006/505 (11 July 2006) was a letter from Iran to the Secretary-General enclosing the final communiqué of the ninth meeting of foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbouring countries.
  • S/2006/449 (28 June 2006) was a letter from Honduras to the Secretary-General enclosing a communiqué regarding the elections of the new government of Iraq.
  • S/2006/394 (14 June 2006) was a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council enclosing a letter from his representative on the IAMB.
  • S/2006/377 (9 June 2006) was a letter from Iraq to the President of the Council requesting the prolongation of the MNF mandate and of the DFI and the IAMB.

Historical Background
For key facts and historical background on Iraq, please refer to our February 2006 Monthly Forecast.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq
 Ashraf Jehangir Qazi (Pakistan)
 Deputy Special Representative for Iraq
 Jean-Marie Fakhouri (Lebanon)
 Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs in Iraq
 Michael von der Schulenburg (Germany)

Useful Additional Sources

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