UNITED NATIONS (IPS) - The United States is seeking the approval of the new
interim government in Baghdad for a joint UK-U.S. resolution that will legitimize
the continuing military occupation of Iraq.
Iraq's newly-anointed foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, is due to arrive in
New York later this week to voice his government's support for the UN Security
Council resolution that claims to confer "full sovereignty" to Iraqis – even
though foreign troops are not scheduled to pull out of his country until January
The continued presence of more than 150,000 troops in Iraq, who will not come
under the authority of the interim government, reduces sovereignty to a farce,
say UN diplomats and international experts.
The draft resolution, a revision of the original text introduced last week,
also calls for the creation of a multinational force over which the new Iraqi
government will have no authority.
This new force is expected to protect UN humanitarian workers and members of
relief organizations involved in emergency operations in Iraq.
Both France and China, two-veto wielding permanent members of the Security
Council, think the resolution falls short of giving full sovereignty to Iraq.
Ambassador Wang Guangya of China told reporters Wednesday that the restoration
of "full sovereignty has not been fully reflected" in the revised resolution.
"The U.S. administration, echoed by (British Prime Minister) Tony Blair, has
stretched the meaning of the word 'sovereignty' to breaking point," says James
E. Jennings, president of Conscience International.
"In the case of Iraq, it doesn't really mean 'autonomous self rule' as defined
in democracies, but joint U.S.-UK-Iraqi military administration under Iraq's
ages-old feudal system. The fundamental requirement for any government – legitimacy
– is missing," Jennings told IPS.
The appointment of a new interim Iraqi government, dominated by a 34-member
pro-U.S. cabinet, was also skillfully manipulated by the United States to its
own advantage, said Jennings, who has traveled extensively in Iraq on behalf
of his humanitarian organization.
"The entire scenario looks suspiciously like it was scripted by the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA)," he said. "The Iraqi people won't be fooled, but
the American people likely will be," he said.
Jennings' views are shared by Middle East experts and UN diplomats, who complain
that Washington used the United Nations as a "political cover" to advance its
own agenda in Iraq.
Lakdhar Brahimi, the UN special envoy in Iraq, was under heavy U.S. pressure,
to the point where he let himself be manipulated by the United States, says
Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy
Studies in Washington.
"The UN's envoy's collapse under U.S. pressure giving into the U.S.-selected
and U.S.-controlled Iraqi Governing Council's (IGC) choice in selecting the
prime minister and other top officials of the interim government, shocked even
those observers accustomed to U.S. domination of the world body," Bennis told
"There are now IGC members and their minions in all the top positions of the
interim government, but with the illusion of international credibility providing
a United Nations 'bluewashing' of the process," said Bennis, author of Calling
the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN.
The cabinet was presumably picked by the IGC in consultation with Brahimi.
"But the hidden hand was that of Ambassador Paul Bremer (head of the U.S.-run
Coalition Provisional Authority)," an Arab diplomat told IPS. "The United States
is clever enough to play the role of a skilful puppet master."
Last week, the U.S.-appointed IGC unanimously endorsed Ayad Allawi, a British-educated
neurosurgeon, as the new prime minister. News reports from London and Washington
said Allawi has had close links with both British and U.S. intelligence agencies.
The endorsement also took Brahimi by surprise, but UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan refused to concede that his envoy had been marginalized.
"It was never intended that the United Nations would go and appoint and impose
a government on the Iraqis," Annan told reporters Tuesday.
"We had to discuss it with them, and given the circumstances and the factors
on the ground, it is not surprising that you have a mix of people from the Iraqi
Governing Council and from outside who are forming the government," he said.
"So, I think in a way Mr Brahimi has done exactly what he set to do, and the
mandate that he was given in the beginning," Annan added.
U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice vehemently denied the charge
that Washington maneuvered the appointments. "These are not America's puppets,"
she said, referring to members of the new interim government.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, U.S. President George W Bush said the United
States had no role in picking the cabinet. The selections were made by Brahimi,
But last week Brahimi himself hinted that he was working within certain limitations.
"You know, sometimes people think I am a free agent out here, that I have a
free hand to do whatever I want to."
Jennings said that "what is not clear at the moment is whether the Brahimi
mission was compromised by U.S. interference."
But he argued that last week's showdown between two members of the IGC – Adnan
Pachachi and Sheikh Ghazi Aji al-Yawar – over the interim presidency "was staged
for the benefit of Iraqi public opinion."
The new president, he said, "may have been sincere in calling for U.S. troop
withdrawals, but the fact that his is a largely ceremonial post leaves that
"His thin protests of 'Yankee Go Home' may resonate well in Iraq but be shrugged
off in Washington, as they were in Bush's press conference on Tuesday," Jennings
The revised Security Council draft resolution concedes that the presence of
the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the incoming interim government.
But at the same time it does not give the new government specific authority
to terminate their military mission in Iraq.
(Inter Press Service)