Press Statement on the Security Situation in Iraq
On Monday (25 November), Security Council members are expected to issue a press statement following the briefing by Special Representative Nickolay Mladenov on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The draft press statement —which was circulated by the US on Wednesday (20 November) and agreed upon the next day—condemns the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Iraq and expresses support to the government in addressing the country’s security needs.
Violence this year has increased to levels not seen since the all-out sectarian warfare of 2006 and 2007. There have been almost daily fatal attacks, many of them coordinated and sectarian in nature, against civilians, law enforcement and government officials.
According to UNAMI, at least 6,592 civilians have been killed since January, in comparison to 3,238 in all of 2012. The surge in violence is related to a government crackdown against Sunni protests that began in April, largely over the perception that the Shi’a-led government was consolidating its hold on power.Tension has also been exacerbated by the destabilising effects of the Syrian crisis.
Council members have found that publicly addressing the growing violence in Iraq has been difficult, primarily because of US sensitivities related to its 2003 invasion. Despite the escalating violence and continuing instability, beyond the routine annual renewal of UNAMI the Council has remained otherwise silent on Iraq for more than a year. The last time the Council responded to the security situation there was on 11 September 2012 when it issued a press statement condemning a wave of terrorist attacks across Iraq on 8 and 9 September 2012.
Many Council members have found it untenable to continue to ignore the implications of increasingly violent sectarian splits and political dysfunction in Iraq. When the Council last renewed UNAMI on 24 July, some Council members insisted that the boiler plate language “welcoming improvements in the security situation in Iraq” was disingenuous and needed to change to reflect the reality on the ground. In this context, all Council members welcomed the US initiative.
There was no disagreement on the substance nor were there any proposed amendments to the draft. While there was acceptance that Iraq and the US had bilaterally agreed on the draft, there was however, some concern over the implicit message that there was very little room to make changes to the text.