April 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 March 2012
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action
The Council is due to receive the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a briefing on its contents and developments from Martin Kobler, head of UNAMI. Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati, Permanent Representative of Iraq, is also expected to address the Council.

The Council is also expecting the Secretary-General’s report on the Iraq Oil for Food escrow account according to paragraphs 4 and 5 of resolution 1958.

UNAMI’s mandate expires on 28 July.

Key Recent Developments
A wave of violent sectarian attacks followed the December 2011 withdrawal of US troops and the arrest warrant, which was issued in the same month, for the Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

On 26 December 2011, at least seven people were reported killed and 27 injured, as a result of a suicide car bomb attack outside the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad. On 5 January, 70 people were reported dead and more than 100 wounded due to multiple bombings targeting Shia pilgrims in Nasiriya and Baghdad. Rockets were fired at Baghdad’s Green Zone on 6 January as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki presided over a military parade.

A bomb killed 53 Shiite pilgrims and wounded 137 near Basra on 14 January. At least eight people were reported dead and six wounded when a bomb targeted a Shiite district outside Mosul on 16 January. On 24 January, four car bombs killed 14 people and wounded 75 in Shiite areas in Baghdad. On 26 January, two Iraqi policemen and eight relatives were killed when militants allegedly used explosives to blow up their home. At least 32 people were killed and 60 injured on 27 January when a suicide bomber targeted a funeral procession in a Shiite district of Baghdad.

Violent attacks continued in recent weeks. On 23 February, a wave of coordinated bombings and shootings, reportedly targeting Shiites across Iraq killed at least 55 people and injured hundreds more. At least 49 people were reported dead and more than 200 injured when a series of coordinated bomb blasts across Iraq, mostly targeting police checkpoints and patrols, struck on 20 March.

There were a number of notable political developments that were either directly or indirectly related to the volatile security situation.

On 27 December 2011, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the head of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya political bloc stated in an op-ed in The New York Times that Iraq was heading towards a “sectarian autocracy that carries with it the threat of devastating civil war.” In an interview with the Associated Press on 13 January, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq accused al-Maliki of consolidating power stating that “the longer al-Maliki stays in power, the higher the possibility of a divided Iraq.” On 19 March, tens of thousands of loyalists of anti-US Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protested against poor services provided by the government in Basra.

Following a meeting with senior Iraqi officials, including President Jalal Talabani, on 4 January, Kobler urged all political parties in Iraq to work together. On 23 February, Kobler condemned the series of attacks across the country in a statement.

The fate of Camp Ashraf and its residents remains a concern despite some progress. On 25 December 2011, UNAMI and the Government of Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding to relocate residents of Camp Ashraf, and postponed the deadline to close the camp from 31 December to 30 April 2012. On 17 February, about 400 residents of Camp Ashraf moved to Camp Liberty, a former US military base near the Baghdad airport. On 6 March, B. Lynn Pascoe, the head of the UN Department of Political Affairs, briefed Council members on the situation in Camp Ashraf. (Camp Ashraf, situated in Diyala province, houses more than 3,000 Iranian exiles belonging to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Iran, or the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, an organisation opposed to the government in Tehran.)

On 20 March, Iraqi State Minister Ali al-Dabbagh said that Iraq’s cabinet had agreed to allocate $300 million to settle a lawsuit that had been filed by Kuwait Airways Corporation. (The state-run Kuwait Airways Corporation has been seeking $1.2 billion in compensation for ten aircrafts taken by Iraq during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.)

Iraq hosted in Baghdad from 27 to 29 March its first Arab League summit since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The Kuwaiti emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, also attended the summit, as well as the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. It was the first visit to Iraq by a Kuwaiti leader since the 1990 Gulf War. However, fewer than half the leaders of the Arab world attended and the absentees included Sunni monarchs of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other Gulf nations, Jordan and Morocco. Moreover, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani became the first non-Arab to chair an Arab League summit.

On 24 January, a judge recommended that US Marine Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty in a plea deal, should face no time in detention for his role in the Haditha massacre of 19 November 2005, in which 24 Iraqi civilians were killed, including women and children. Wuterich is the only marine out of eight, who was convicted in this case. (The charges against six other US Marines were dropped or dismissed, and one was acquitted.)

 

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 24 January, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, commented on the execution of 34 people that occurred on 19 January. She said, “given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure.”

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is the high level of sectarian violence in the aftermath of the arrest warrant issued for Vice President al-Hashemi.

The security provision for UNAMI personnel is a related issue.

Another important issue for the Council is assessing the contribution that UNAMI makes to the stability of Iraq and whether UNAMI’s composition ought to be modified in order to better address the challenges it faces.

Encouraging a peaceful resolution between Camp Ashraf’s residents and the government of Iraq is also an issue for the Council.

Underlying Problems
Due to the sectarian and political divisions, key ministerial posts, such as for defence and interior, have been unfilled for months, and different political blocs remain divided over power-sharing.

Options
Regarding the political situation, an option could be issuing a presidential or press statement that would include some or all of the following elements:

  • expressing concerns about the impact of violence on Iraqi civilians;
  • urging Iraq’s political leaders to resolve differences through political dialogue; and
  • urging Iraq to finalise its government formation by filling all vacant ministerial posts based on inclusiveness.

Taking steps to address the increasing security needs of UNAMI would be an additional option.

Regarding Camp Ashraf, the Council could ask for regular briefings from either the Department of Political Affairs or Kobler.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Most Council members seem to view Iraq as a routine issue with no significant developments recently. Council members seem to acknowledge the contribution UNAMI makes; however, they do not expect any significant changes to UNAMI’s mandate in the near future.

Some Council members remain concerned about the potential for sectarian strife in Iraq that al-Hashemi’s arrest warrant could lead to. They are also wary of the deteriorating security situation. However, other members do not view the surge in violence following the US withdrawal as abnormal.

Council members are cautiously optimistic regarding developments at Camp Ashraf. Though most members view the UN-brokered agreement between the government of Iraq and the leadership of Camp Ashraf as a positive development, they feel that the potential remains for this issue to turn violent.

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/2001 (28 July 2011) extended UNAMI’s mandate until 31 July 2012.
  • 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 Weapons of Mass Destruction (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.
Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2011/795 (22 December 2011) was the first report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution 1956 about the UN Compensation Fund.
  • S/2011/754 (5 December 2011) was the 32nd report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 14 of resolution 1284, covering the issue of missing Kuwaiti personnel and property.
  • S/2011/736 (28 November 2011) was the first report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution 2001, discussing UNAMI’s progress and other developments in Iraq.
  • S/2011/607 (3 October 2011) was the Secretary-General’s report reviewing Iraq’s commitment to the chemical weapons convention.
  • S/2011/435 (7 July 2011) was the third report of the Secretary-General on UNAMI.
Letters
  • S/2011/806 (30 December 2011) was the letter from the chair of the committee established pursuant to resolution 1518 to the President of the Council.
  • S/2011/721 (15 November 2011) was from Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati to the President of the Council, updating him on the formation of an Iraqi coordinating committee to deal with Kuwaiti national archives.
Security Council Meeting Records
  • S/PV.6675 (6 December 2011) was Kobler’s briefing to the Council, presenting the first report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution 2001.
Security Council Press Statements
  • SC/10490 (15 December 2011) expressed the Council’s intention to continue funding for the activities of the high-level coordinator for missing Kuwaiti persons and property.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq
Martin Kobler (Germany)
Secretary-General’s High-Level Coordinator for Iraq/Kuwait Missing Persons and Property
Gennady Tarasov (Russia)

Full Forecast

 

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