May 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2010
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Expected Council Action
The Council is expecting the Secretary-General’s regular ninety-day report on UNAMI in May. A briefing by Special Representative Ad Melkert is likely. At time of writing it seemed unlikely that there would be any Council action. UNAMI’s mandate expires 6 August.

Key Recent Developments
A series of bombings in Baghdad on 23 April, apparently targeting Shiite areas of the capital, killed at least 56 people and wounded over a hundred more. The attacks appeared to be in response to the deaths of two prominent insurgent leaders. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced on 19 April that the two had been killed in a joint Iraq-US military operation.

The Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) on 19 April ordered a recount of votes cast in the Baghdad area in the national election after an Iraqi court upheld a challenge by Maliki’s State of Law coalition, which claimed that hundreds of thousands of votes may have been affected by fraud. (As Baghdad accounts for about 20 percent of the seats in the Iraqi parliament, this could alter the extremely close preliminary election which gave the Iraqiya list of candidates led by Ayad Allawi 91 seats in parliament, the State of Law list led by Maliki 89 seats and the Iraqi National Alliance list, which includes followers of Moktada al-Sadr, seventy seats.)

Manoeuvres by the parties to assemble a national ruling coalition to form a new government have continued since the election. On 15 April, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said that two prominent Kurdish parties were prepared to back a possible alliance between the State of Law and Iraqi National Alliance coalitions. Maliki said on 16 April that the Iraqiya coalition needed to be included in the formation of a new government, as Iraqiya includes the most Sunni representatives.

On 6 April, UN Controller Jun Yamazaki briefed briefed the Council on the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB, the DFI auditing entity). The head of Iraq’s Committee of Financial Experts, Abdul Basit Turky Saed, also briefed the Council on Iraq’s plans for a transition to a post-DFI mechanism scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010. Yamazaki reported that the Iraqi government’s action plan and timeline for establishing a successor mechanism were realistic. He stressed, however, Iraq’s obligation under such a mechanism to continue making payments of 5 percent of the DFI to the Compensation Fund. (The Compensation Fund was set up by resolution 1483 to settle claims against the previous regime.) He also noted that international immunities granted in conjunction with the DFI could not continue under the national arrangement for a successor mechanism unless otherwise decided by the Security Council. Turky Saed expressed concern over the end of international immunities for Iraq’s overseas funds and suggested that the Council should encourage relevant parties to reconsider the amount of compensation that Iraq is obligated to pay. Similarly, Iraq’s permanent representative to the UN told reporters that Iraq was seeking to reduce the 5 percent of its oil revenue that is currently paid into the Compensation Fund (reparations distributed from the fund are paid almost entirely to Kuwait).

On 6 April a series of bombings occurred in predominantly Shiite areas of Baghdad, killing at least 42 people. Another series of bombings in Baghdad on 4 April apparently targeted foreign embassies, killing more than forty people and wounding as many as two hundred more.

In a press statement on 31 March, the members of the Council welcomed the provisional results of the Iraqi election and looked forward to the final certification of the results by the country’s supreme court. They expressed support for the work of IHEC and commended the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in providing technical assistance and support for the elections. The members of the Council also noted that both international and domestic Iraqi observers had affirmed the overall integrity of the elections, called on political entities in Iraq to respect the certified election results and urged the country’s political leaders to avoid inflammatory rhetoric and actions.

On 22 March the Secretary-General informed the Council that the IAEA had verified it was receiving excellent cooperation from Iraq when conducting its safeguards activities.

Key Issues
An issue Council members will be watching closely is the risk of protracted delays in forming a new government, and the related question of whether the final composition of the government will be broadly accepted by the Iraqi people.

Other related issues include the impact on the overall security situation in Iraq and Iraq’s capacity to move forward with the creation of institutions needed for the normalisation of Iraq’s international standing and removal of restrictions imposed in Saddam-era Council resolutions.

Underlying Problems
An underlying problem is that Iraq is a new and relatively fragile democracy, in which a protracted political conflict centred on the formation of a new government could stimulate ongoing violence in the country.

Options for the Council include:

  • refraining from any collective action at this stage but using the meeting to state their national position on current issues in Iraq; and
  • adopting a statement to emphasise again the importance of the timely formation of a new government and encouraging Iraq to continue its efforts in this regard.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Some Council members feel that the uncertainty surrounding the formation of a new government in Iraq and the recent decision to recount ballots cast in the Baghdad area, which is likely to slow the process further, are beginning to overshadow important wider issues.

With regard to the overarching issue of normalising Iraq’s international standing through the removal of restrictions imposed in Saddam-era resolutions, most Council members have taken a positive view of Iraq’s efforts so far to comply with requirements toward the creation of a DFI successor mechanism. Likewise, members appear to feel that Iraq has taken constructive moves to meet its disarmament responsibilities.

However, there is a sense that additional work is still required on these issues, as well as on more contentious aspects of historical resolutions on Iraq, such as the demarcation of borders and relations with Kuwait. Most members are currently disinclined to act on Iraq’s suggestion that the compensation it is obligated to pay should be reduced, either in terms of overall amount or annual percentage.

There is recognition among members that the makeup of the new Iraqi government will likely have some impact on Kuwait-related issues. If such engagement is slowed or stalled for an extended period, some feel that it will be more difficult for the Council to come to agreement on removing the restrictions imposed in historical resolutions.

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/1905 (21 December 2009) extended the arrangements for the DFI and the IAMB until 31 December 2010 and requested the Secretary-General to report on strengthening oversight of the DFI, legal issues and options for a post-DFI mechanism, and Iraq’s progress in preparing for such a mechanism.
  • S/RES/1883 (7 August 2009) extended the UNAMI mandate for another year.
  • S/RES/1859 (22 December 2008) 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 Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2010/5 (26 February 2010) underlined the importance of Iraq’s ratifying the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and expressed willingness to review disarmament-related restrictions on Iraq.

Selected Press Statement

  • SC/9897 (31 March 2010) welcomed the provisional results of the Iraqi election.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6293 (6 April 2010) was the most recent meeting on DFI and IAMB.
  • S/PV.6271 (16 February 2010) was the latest briefing on UNAMI.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/166 (1 April 2010) was the Secretary-General’s last report on the DFI and the IAMB.
  • S/2010/76 (8 February 2010) was the previous UNAMI report.
  • S/2009/385 (27 July 2009) was the Secretary-General’s report on the review of Iraq resolutions.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/150 (22 March 2010) included the IAEA assessment of Iraq’s cooperation with its safeguards activities.
  • S/2010/153 (18 March 2010) included Iraq’s first quarterly report on the action plan and timeline for the transition to a post-DFI mechanism by 31 December 2010.

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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