October 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2009
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action
The Council is expecting a report on Iraq and the Kuwaiti missing persons issue on 22 October. In October the mandate expires for the High-Level Coordinator advising the Security Council on this matter. The Council seems likely to renew the Coordinator’s mandate.

Council members are still working on the wider issue of historical resolutions relating to Iraq from the Saddam era, but no decisions are likely to emerge in October.

Key Recent Developments
US Vice President Joe Biden visited Iraq from 15 to 17 September for meetings with a range of Iraqi leaders as well as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Iraq, Ad Melkert. Asked by the media about rumours of a possible referendum in Iraq on early withdrawal of US forces, Biden said it was unclear whether a referendum would be held. However, the US would abide by the wishes of the Iraqi people. (Current plans involve a complete US withdrawal by the end of 2011.)

On 10 September a large explosion in a Kurdish village outside Mosul in northern Iraq left dozens of casualties, highlighting concerns that insurgents continue to try to exploit ethnic tensions that exist in the area.

Coordinated truck bombings in Baghdad on 19 August killed nearly 100 people and left more than 1,000 wounded. The Council condemned these attacks, noting they occurred on the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the UN office in Baghdad. Some viewed the scale of the attacks as evidence that the Iraqi security forces still lack capacity to provide security in the run-up to January elections.

On 4 September, the Iraqi government said it had evidence that linked Iraqis in Syria with bombings in Iraq. Iraq’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Hamid Al-Bayati, announced that Iraq had sent a letter to the Secretary-General asking the Security Council to establish an independent investigation into the 19 August truck bombings. At time of writing no Council members had requested action on this request.

Relations between Iraq and Syria seem to have deteriorated in light of these developments. The two states recalled their ambassadors, and Iraq deployed reinforcements along its border to prevent insurgents from crossing from Syria.

On 27 August UN Controller Jun Yamazaki briefed the Council on the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB). The most recent Secretary-General’s report on the DFI and the IAMB was issued on 24 August.

The Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for another year on 7 August.

Key Issues
The key issue before the Council is the resolution of outstanding Iraq/Kuwait issues. These continue to be politically sensitive and difficult. A related question is whether these issues would become even more complicated if the High-Level Coordinator’s mandate is not renewed.

A separate, but no less complex issue, is how the Council should respond to Iraq’s request that resolutions adopted during the regime of Saddam Hussein be rescinded. The request was laid out in a letter on 7 December 2008. (The letter was included as an annex to resolution 1859, which inter alia requested the Secretary-General to report on all Council resolutions concerning Iraq since 1990.)

Options
Options include:

  • requesting the Secretary-General to continue the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator for the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and the repatriation of Kuwaiti property for an additional six months, or for another period of time;
  • allowing the mandate to expire (a less likely option); and
  • seeking to give the resolution of the issues some momentum by adopting a statement reaffirming the Council’s commitment to resolving outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait and giving the High-Level Coordinator some greater guidance.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Although Council members were very concerned about the 19 August truck bombings there is some hesitation about taking up the subsequent Iraqi request for the Council to establish an independent investigation.

Likewise, the current preference of members appears to be to postpone substantive action on the DFI and the IAMB until the expiration in December of related immunities which prevent creditors from being able to seize Iraqi funds or oil shipments. The fact that delegations have been occupied with preparations for the opening of the General Assembly has contributed to a lack of action on historical resolutions relating to Iraq from the Saddam era.

On the question of extending the mandate for the High-Level Coordinator, the US is supportive of efforts to recover Kuwaiti nationals and property and is sympathetic to the view that the UN role should continue. Russia has also traditionally been supportive of this mandate. Other Council members seem to have no objection to it being renewed.

Some Council members feel that in practical terms, ending the Coordinator position would inevitably complicate the negotiation of other related Iraq/Kuwait issues identified in the Secretary-General’s report on Saddam-era resolutions. These other issues, such as compensation and the maintenance of the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait, remain unresolved. Also, some members feel that while the likelihood of Kuwait recovering more of its nationals, their remains and its national archives is lessening with the passage of time, the return of some material suggests there may still be more effects to be found.

The US is the lead country on Iraq issues in general, and the UK is the lead on Iraq/Kuwait issues.

Selected UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1883 (7 August 2009) extended the UNAMI mandate for another 12 months.
  • S/RES/1859 (22 December 2008) extended the arrangements for the DFI and the IAMB until 31 December 2009 and requested the Secretary-General to report on all Council resolutions concerning Iraq since 1990; a letter from Iraq requesting the lifting of Saddam-era resolutions is included as an annex to the resolution.
  • S/RES/1483 (22 May 2003) established sanctions against the previous Iraqi government, created the DFI, provided immunity to Iraqi petroleum products and envisaged the termination of the oil-for-food programme.
  • S/RES/1284 (17 December 1999) appointed a High-Level Coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.

Selected Press Statements

  • SC/9637 (16 April 2009) agreed to finance the activities of the High-Level Coordinator for six months.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6179 (7 August 2009) was a Council open debate on renewing UNAMI.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/430 (24 August 2009) was the Secretary-General’s latest report on the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB).
  • S/2009/393 (30 July 2009) was the latest UNAMI report.
  • S/2009/385 (27 July 2009) was the Secretary-General’s report on the review of Iraq resolutions.
  • S/2009/190 (8 April 2009) was the latest report on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq

Ad Melkert (Netherlands)

Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait Missing Persons and Property

Gennady Tarasov (Russia)

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