July 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 June 2011
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action
The mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), expires on 31 July. The Council is also due to receive the Secretary-General’s regular report on UNAMI in July. The Council seems likely to extend the mission’s mandate. A briefing by Special Representative Ad Melkert is expected.

Key Recent Developments
Ambassador Gennady Tarasov, the high-level coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property, briefed the Council on 22 June. The members of the Council released a press statement the same day welcoming the commitment to full implementation of all Iraqi obligations to Kuwait. The statement also welcomed efforts undertaken in the framework of the technical subcommittee of the Tripartite Commission to develop a functional mechanism for exploratory missions to search for missing persons. (The Tripartite Commission was established under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1991 after the invasion of Kuwait to investigate missing persons. France, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the US participate in the commission along with Iraq and Kuwait. The technical subcommittee focuses on practical aspects of the search.)

However, the statement also noted that limited progress had been made on clarifying the fate of the Kuwaiti national archives and urged Iraq to fulfil as soon as possible its pledge to establish a national body for coordinating efforts with regard to missing property, including the archives. The statement also supported extending the financing of the activities of the high-level coordinator for six months to build on the present momentum.

The speaker of Iraq’s Council of Representatives, Osama al Nujaifi, met with US Vice President Joseph Biden on 22 June in Washington to discuss a range of issues. A statement issued after the meeting reported that Biden thanked Nujaifi for his support of a $400 million compensation package for US victims of the Saddam regime and offered continued support for the development of democratic institutions in Iraq.

Leon Panetta, the nominee to be the next US Secretary of Defense, told a Senate panel on 9 June that Iraq was considering the possibility of requesting some US troops to stay in the country after 2011 and that he believed such a request would be forthcoming. The next day, a US State Department spokesperson said the US was continuing with its scheduled withdrawal. Any possible request for some troops to remain in Iraq was up to the Iraqi government.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki held meetings with his cabinet on 7 and 8 June to discuss chronic power shortages and related issues. There has been increasing pressure on the government to tackle problems related to the delivery of social services. (In the wake of public protests, Maliki had directed government ministers on 27 February to accelerate public-service reforms within the next 100 days.)

On 26 May thousands of supporters of Iraqi political leader and cleric Moktada al Sadr marched in Baghdad in support of a complete US troop withdrawal by the end of the year.

Violence in Iraq has continued. Several bombs killed almost two dozen people near a Shiite religious site in Baghdad on 23 June. On 21 June two car bombs killed more than 20 people in the city of Diwaniya, and on 3 June two suicide bombings in Tikrit killed nearly the same number. Scores more were wounded in the attacks. According to an Oxfam report on the protection of civilians issued in May, civilian deaths in Iraq in 2010 exceeded 4,000, making it the conflict-affected country with the highest number of civilians killed that year.

Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN working group on the use of mercenaries completed a visit to Iraq on 16 June. The group, which reports to the Human Rights Council, examined the government’s efforts to regulate and monitor the activities of private military and security companies in Iraq to prevent human rights abuses. While noting a decrease in such incidents in Iraq, the working group urged the Iraqi government to bring into force as a matter of priority its legislation regulating security companies.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council is whether to extend the UNAMI mandate. A related question is the contribution UNAMI makes to the stability of Iraq.

Another issue is whether the composition of the mission should be altered in some way to better address the challenges it faces. A related issue is how best to ensure that UNAMI is provided with adequate protection in light of the imminent US withdrawal (US troops will apparently cease direct support of UNAMI in July and be fully withdrawn from the country by December). Possible implications for the UN budget fall within the purview of the General Assembly.

Underlying Problems
A key underlying problem is the fact that significant sectarian and political divisions persist in Iraq. In addition, key ministerial posts such as that of defence have been unfilled for months and tension remains over the extent to which political power should be consolidated in the central government. Disagreement over whether to request some limited continuation of US troop presence in the country may cause further contention among political actors.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • renewing the UNAMI mandate without substantial changes to its scope or composition;
  • including some acknowledgement of the increasing security needs of the mission (and the related increased cost) and the persistent violence impacting on Iraqi civilians with some reference to protection of civilians norms developed by the Council;
  • urging Iraq to finalise its government formation by filling all vacant ministerial posts; or
  • reiterating the importance for Iraq to make progress on resolving outstanding issues related to Kuwait (including borders, missing persons and property).

Council and Wider Dynamics
Most Council members view UNAMI as providing important support to Iraq and favour the extension of the mission’s mandate. Many members remain concerned about the overall security situation in the country, as well as the significant social unrest over the provision of government services that has been apparent during the last several months.

Members are also aware of the mission’s expanding security needs in light of the US withdrawal and are sensitive to the memory of the 2003 bombing of the mission’s compound in Baghdad. Members are mindful that in April’s UNAMI briefing Melkert stressed the need for the mission to generate a full range of logistics and security resources and hoped for continuing member state support through the provision of additional UN guards and approval for enlarging the UNAMI compound in Baghdad.

Most Council members continue to view the three resolutions adopted in December 2010 as significant steps in restoring Iraq’s international standing. (The resolutions lifted Chapter VII measures related to weapons of mass destruction, ended the Oil-for-Food programme and provided a final six-month extension for the Development Fund for Iraq, or DFI.) As expressed in June’s press statement, members are concerned with the lack of progress on locating the Kuwaiti national archives. Many Council members continue to stress that it is important for Iraq to make further efforts to fulfil its obligations to Kuwait.

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

UN Documents

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 with regard to the programme for a period of six years.
  • S/RES/1957 (15 December 2010) terminated the WMD-related Chapter VII measures Iraq was subject to and urged Iraq to ratify the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA as soon as possible.
  • S/RES/1956 (15 December 2010) extended the DFI and related immunities a final time until 30 June 2011 and affirmed that five percent of Iraqi proceeds from oil sales would continue to be deposited into a compensation fund after that date.
  • S/RES/1936 (5 August 2010) extended UNAMI’s mandate through 31 July 2011 and welcomed Iraq’s provisional application of the IAEA additional protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, though reaffirming the need for its ratification. 

Press Statement

  • SC/10289 (22 June 2011) expressed the Council’s intention to continue funding for the activities of the high-level coordinator for missing Kuwaiti persons and property.

Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6511 (8 April 2011) was the latest briefing on UNAMI.

Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2011/373 (20 June 2011) was the most recent report on Iraq/Kuwait missing persons and property.
  • S/2011/213 (31 March 2011) was the most recent report on UNAMI.  

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)

Full Forecast