November 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 November 2012
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MIDDLE EAST

Iraq

Expected Council Action

In November the Council expects to receive the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a briefing on its contents and developments in the country from the head of UNAMI, Martin Kobler. 

The mandate of UNAMI expires on 28 July 2013. The mandate of the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait Missing Persons and Property expires on 31 December.

Key Recent Developments

Kobler last briefed the Council on 19 July, highlighting the political stalemate that has hampered progress on disputed internal boundaries, the unfinished constitutional process, the adoption of essential legislation and preparations for provincial elections. Ambassador Hamid Al-Bayati (Iraq) also addressed the Council, agreeing with Kobler that UNAMI “is needed now more than ever in Iraq.” On 25 July, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2061, renewing UNAMI for a further year.  

In recent weeks the political deadlock has not abated. Following a trial in absentia, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was convicted on 9 September on two counts of murder. Al-Hashemi, who had been accused of overseeing paramilitary death squads responsible for more than 150 attacks in Iraq, was sentenced to death by hanging. From Turkey, where he has been living, al-Hashemi rejected the “politically motivated verdict” as “the final phase of the theatrical campaign” mounted by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. President Jalal Talabani also opposed the verdict, expressing concern that it could “complicate efforts to achieve national reconciliation.”

On 21 October, a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), headed by former KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih, met with representatives from the Iraqi National Alliance, a Shi’ite political bloc associated with al-Maliki, and with the Prime Minister on 22 October. That same day, KRG Vice President Emad Ahmed met separately with Al-Maliki and Talabani, who in a statement expressed “optimism over the success of the meetings…to achieve the settling of the political disputes.”

At the end of September, eight of the nine members of the Board of Commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission were formally appointed. In a statement on 25 September, Kobler welcomed the appointments, saying they paved the way for provincial elections in 2013. However, Kobler also expressed regret that no women had been appointed. The appointment of the ninth commissioner, on 27 September, drew complaints from the Christian community, which criticised the fact that all nine commissioners were Muslim. Provincial elections are currently scheduled for April 2013, followed by general elections in 2014.

On 9 September, a wave of attacks across Iraq killed more than 100 people. The attacks primarily targeted military and law-enforcement sites, including the Dujail army outpost north of Baghdad and a building in Kirkuk at which people were applying for security jobs with the state-run oil company. Additionally, at the French consulate in Nasiriyah, a car bomb exploded, killing two Iraqi guards. On 10 September, the Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaida affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attacks. On 11 September, Council members issued a press statement (SC/10757) condemning the attacks.

Sporadic violence continued in the following weeks. At least 32 people were killed in a wave of bombings that struck Shi’ite neighbourhoods on 30 September, a string of car-bombs and a shooting killed eight people in northern Iraq on 15 October and four Pakistani Shi’ite pilgrims were killed in an attack on 19 October. On 20 October, at least 12 people were killed in shootings and bombings targeting government officials and security forces in Baghdad and Mosul. On 24 October, at least 11 more people were killed in attacks in Baghdad and to the north. On 27 October, Kobler condemned “in the strongest terms” a series of attacks which killed at least 20 people, mainly pilgrims observing  the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Concerning Camp Ashraf, as of 3 October, more than 3,000 Iranian exiles belonging to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Iran (the MEK), an organisation opposed to the government in Tehran, had been peacefully relocated to Camp Hurriye near Baghdad International Airport.  On 21 September, the US State Department removed the MEK from its list of designated terror organisations, citing the “absence of any confirmed attacks by the MEK for more than a decade.” Approximately 100 members of the MEK are expected to remain at Camp Ashraf for the time being, with Iraqi permission, to deal with logistical issues related to MEK property remaining in the camp.

In August, the Security Council received the 2011 audit of the escrow account established by resolution 1958 to indemnify the UN with regards to the Iraq Oil-For-Food program and the audit of the UN Compensation Commission (established to process claims and pay compensation related to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait) for the biennium ending 31 December 2011. Both audits found that the financial statements of the various accounts were fair and accurate.

 Human Rights-Related Developments

On 30 August, Christof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights Council (HRC) on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, condemned ongoing executions in Iraq and expressed concern about the lack of respect for transparency, due process and fair trial guarantees when imposing the death penalty.

At the opening of the 21st session of the HRC, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay deplored that 26 more people had been executed recently in Iraq, bringing the number of people executed in 2012 to nearly 100.

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council is how UNAMI can best contribute to the stability of Iraq and help facilitate an end to the current political deadlock.

Another key issue is the continuing sectarian violence, especially as it relates to the conviction of al-Hashemi.

Underlying Problems

Given sectarian divisions, different political blocs remain split over power-sharing. As a result, key ministerial posts have been vacant for months.

Options

The most likely option for the Council is to receive the report and hear Kobler’s briefing without making any further pronouncements on Iraq. However, given that the report is expected to focus on the continuing political deadlock in Iraq, the Council could issue a statement urging Iraq’s political leaders to resolve their differences through political dialogue.

Council Dynamics

Council members continue to consider Iraq a routine issue, and there is a general consensus that UNAMI is making a contribution to stability in Iraq.

The expiration of the mandate of the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait Missing Persons and Property in December may factor into some Council members’ considerations regarding UNAMI, as some have suggested incorporating that post into its mandate. Even so, most Council members appear to be interested in maintaining the position as is, so as not to diminish the visibility of Iraq-Kuwait issues.

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

UN Documents on Iraq

Security Council Resolutions  
25 July 2012 S/RES/2061 renewed UNAMI for a further year.
15 December 2010 S/RES/1958 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.
Secretary-General’s Report  
11 July 2012 S/2012/535 was a report of the Secretary-General on UNAMI.
Security Council Meeting Record  
19 July 2012 S/PV.6811 was a briefing by UNAMI head Martin Kobler.
Security Council Press Statement  
11 September 2012 SC/10757 condemned the wave of terrorist attacks across Iraq on 8 and 9 September.
Other  
3 August 2012 S/2012/605 was the report of the Board of Auditors on the financial statements of the UN Compensation Commission for the biennium ending 31 December 2011.
3 August 2012 S/2012/604 was the report of the Board of Auditors on the audit of the UN escrow (Iraq) accounts established under resolution 1958 and previous resolutions.