April 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 March 2011
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action
The Council is expecting a report on Iraq by the beginning of April. A briefing by Special Representative Ad Melkert seems likely. At time of writing no Council decision was anticipated. (UNAMI’s mandate expires at the end of July.)

Key Recent Developments
On 15 December 2010, the Council held a high-level meeting on Iraq. Three resolutions and a presidential statement addressed a range of issues:

  • Resolution 1956 extended the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and related immunities a final time until 30 June 2011.
  • Resolution 1957 terminated the Chapter VII measures related to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and urged Iraq to ratify the IAEA Additional Protocol as soon as possible.
  • Resolution 1958 terminated the oil-for-food programme and established an escrow account to provide indemnification to the UN for a period of six years.

The presidential statement welcomed Iraq’s progress in meeting its nonproliferation and disarmament obligations, recognised Iraq’s success in closing out remaining contracts in the oil-for-food programme and establishing successor arrangements for the DFI and called on Iraq to quickly fulfil its remaining obligations to Kuwait.

On 17 December 2010, Council members received a briefing from Gennady Tarasov, the Secretary-General’s high-level coordinator on Kuwait missing persons and property. Members stressed the need for Iraq to fulfil its commitments to Kuwait and supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to extend the coordinator for another six months.

The Secretary-General notified the Council on 21 December 2010 of his intention to adjust the security arrangements for UNAMI in light of the upcoming withdrawal of US forces. The adjustments include the participation of police advisors or liaison officers or both in the coordination mechanism between UNAMI and the Iraqi government and using UN guards to provide close-protection security for UN personnel.

Also on 21 December 2010, the Iraqi parliament voted to approve more than 30 ministers to serve in the next government of Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki. Although several key posts such as interior, defence and national security were not included in the nominations presented to parliament, the development was significant, coming after months of protracted delay over government formation. Council members issued a press statement that day welcoming the formation of a national partnership government and encouraging Iraq’s political leaders to rededicate themselves to national reconciliation.

Iraqi political leader, cleric Moktada al Sadr returned to Iraq on 5 January after spending three years in Iran. Addressing a group of supporters on 8 January, he expressed support for the new Iraqi government and urged that all US troops leave the country by the end of the year.

On 12 January Kuwaiti prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah travelled to Iraq for talks with Iraqi officials, the first such visit since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

On 18 January, Iraq’s highest court ruled in favour of the Maliki government holding that several entities, such as the central bank, Independent Higher Electoral Commission and the human rights commission, should fall under the supervision of the cabinet. The decision was seen as further consolidating power in the central government.

On 27 January the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) made $680 million available to the Kuwaiti government for distribution to nine successful claimants. (The UNCC was created in 1991 to process claims and pay compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.) The payment brings the overall amount of compensation made available to date by the UNCC globally to $31.4 billion, leaving an outstanding balance of approximately $21 billion that remains owed to Kuwait.

On 26 February the Secretary-General congratulated Kuwait as it marked 50 years as an independent state and 20 years since the country’s liberation from occupying Iraqi forces in 1991.

On 14 March the UN Children’s Fund, UN Development Programme and UN Population Fund signed an agreement with Iraq to support the implementation of development programmes worth $600 million in Iraq over the next four years.

Violence has continued in Iraq in recent months. Groups of both Shiite and Sunni civilians, as well as members of the country’s security services, have been targeted. On 10 and 12 February, dozens of people were killed in suicide bombings near the city of Samarra. These attacks and a series of attacks in January near the city of Karbala appeared to target Shiite pilgrims. Another series of bombings in January appeared to target Sunnis, including an attack on 18 January that killed dozens of police applicants in Tikrit. On 21 February a suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb outside a police station north of Samarra, killing about a dozen officers, and on 14 March about eight soldiers died in a car-bomb attack in Diyala province.

On 25 February demonstrators across the country rallied against poor government services. Some 20 people were killed in clashes between security forces and demonstrators. Although the demonstrations were not the first to be held due to dissatisfaction with government services, they were the most substantial and seemed to be modelled on recent protests across North Africa and the Middle East. The demonstrations occurred despite last-minute government efforts to head off a national day of protest (including providing more access to electricity and subsidised food to the public). Maliki had urged Iraqis the day before not to demonstrate, and Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani had urged their Shiite followers on 23 February also not to participate. Earlier in the week, Iraq’s parliament had suspended its work for a week while members returned to their constituencies to address public anger. On 27 February Maliki directed government ministers to accelerate public-service reforms within the next 100 days.

Human Rights-Related Developments
In a statement on 2 March, Special Representative Ad Melkert called on the authorities in Iraq to recognise fully the importance of the participation of all Iraqis in building a democratic, stable and prosperous state in order to consolidate progress made in the recent period. While acknowledging the duty of the Iraqi authorities to ensure law and order in the country, Melkert expressed concern about instances of human rights violations in relation to public demonstrations. Reported violations included disproportionate use of force by Iraqi security forces that had resulted in the death and injury of a number of citizens. Restrictions had been placed on the media, and there had been arrests and detentions of journalists.


Key Issues
A key issue is the still-incomplete process of government formation in Iraq. While progress was made in December, appointments of key government officials remain outstanding. A related issue in the minds of Council members is growing public dissatisfaction with the government and the human rights situation, including the erosion of various “checks and balances” as a result of the 18 January court decision.

Another issue is the state of the overall security situation in Iraq and whether the security adjustments proposed by the Secretary-General will remain sufficient for UNAMI’s needs as the US troop withdrawal proceeds.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • refraining from action at this time;
  • using the April UNAMI meeting to state national positions on the issues identified above as well as on the changing security needs of the mission; or
  • approving elements for the press covering the need for completing the government formation and resolving issues of concern to Kuwait (such as border demarcation, reparations and missing persons and property).


Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members view the decisions adopted during the December 2010 high-level event on Iraq as an important step toward normalising Iraq’s international standing.

Most Council members retain concerns about the slow progress in implementing the December decisions, which call on Iraq to make progress on issues with Kuwait, make a successful transition to a DFI-successor mechanism by the end of June and ratify the IAEA Additional Protocol. There seems to be a feeling that progress should be assessed regularly throughout 2011.

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

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1958 (15 December 2010) terminated the Oil-for-Food programme and established an escrow account to provide indemnification to the UN.
  • S/RES/1957 (15 December 2010) terminated the WMD-related Chapter VII measures and urged Iraq to ratify the Additional Protocol as soon as possible.
  • S/RES/1956 (15 December 2010) extended the DFI and related immunities a final time until 30 June 2011.
  • S/RES/1936 (5 August 2010) extended UNAMI’s mandate through 31 July 2011.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2010/27 (15 December 2010) welcomed Iraq’s progress in meeting its nonproliferation obligations and success in closing the Oil-for-Food programme and establishing successor arrangements for the DFI, and called on Iraq to quickly fulfil its remaining obligations to Kuwait.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6450 (15 December 2010) was the high level meeting on Iraq.

Selected Letter

  • S/2010/666 (21 December 2010) outlined the Secretary-General’s intention to adjust the security arrangements for UNAMI in light of the withdrawal of US forces.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Press Statement

  • SC/10138 (21 December 2010) welcomed the formation of a new government in Iraq.


Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq

Ad Melkert (Netherlands)

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