Allawi Asks Help of ‘Spectator’ Nations

Iraqi Leader Asks Help of ‘Spectator’ Nations [RSS] (NYT)

Iraq’s interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, appealed Thursday to what he called the “spectator” countries in the war in Iraq – specifically France and Germany – to become more involved in creating peace and prosperity there. “I want to take this opportunity to call on the countries which are content to have a spectator role, to help us build a better Iraq,” Mr. Allawi told reporters in Rome, where he stopped on the eve of a meeting in Brussels with European Union leaders. Asked afterward if he was referring to France and Germany, strong critics of the American-led war, he told Agence France-Presse, “Yes.”

Mr. Allawi is scheduled to meet in Brussels with President Jacques Chirac of France and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany in what could be an early test of any changing positions in Europe after President Bush’s re-election. Mr. Allawi said his comments were not intended to be critical, but to win as much support as possible to make a stable and democratic Iraq a reality.
“We know there were countries that were against the war in Iraq,” he said. “But we have to look to the future and to forget the past. And I invite all these countries to build a commercial relationship with Iraq based on reciprocal interests and our partnership and friendship.”

Heh. It didn’t take long for a firestorm to break out over Allawi’s bluntness.

Iraq’s Allawi Seeks to Calm EU ‘Spectators’ Storm (NYT – Reuters)

Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi sought to calm European anger on Friday over his description of states that opposed the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein as “spectators.”
But several EU leaders said his comment, on a visit to Rome on Thursday, were unhelpful ahead of a first meeting at which the 25-nation bloc is due to offer him a modest aid package as it seeks a fresh start after bitter divisions over Iraq. “What I said is that history is history, past is past. We need to start operations, to start a new chapter and look to the future. We definitely want to forge a positive alliance with Europe,” Allawi told reporters after a breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Brussels.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, one of the European critics of the war, told reporters: “I don’t like the expression ‘spectator states’ at all. I don’t understand it, and if I do understand it right, I don’t like it at all.” French President Jacques Chirac, the most outspoken opponent of the invasion, was to skip the meeting with Allawi in a move criticized by EU diplomats, which his office denied was a snub. He was due to fly to the United Arab Emirates before the lunch. France managed to get a phrase explicitly welcoming Allawi deleted from the draft summit statement, diplomats said. Instead the text said: “The European Council met Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi to discuss the situation in Iraq and reiterated its strong support for the political process in Iraq and the Iraqi interim government.”

The EU aid package is relatively small, consisting of 16.5 million euros ($21 million) in financing for elections due in January, support for developing the justice system and help for a United Nations protection force for the elections.

The truth hurts, apparently.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Iraq War, Middle East
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ralf Goergens says:

    Well, as long as German firms aren’t interested (despite the flap over contracts earlier this year) of doing business in Iraq, there won’t be much of a “commercial relationship”.

    Coming back to the contracts flap for a moment: I’m surprised that German and French firms are expected to invest in the country, after they were effectively told that they shouldn’t be allowed to do business there.

    Griping aside, wat might help the Iraqi most is government guarantees for insurers, comparable to those the airlines got. The reason why doing business in Iraq is so unattractive is that thew insecurity created by the terrorists is driving insurance rates sky-high; the guarantees would help to reduce the problem

  2. Rich Arnone says:

    Allawi was being gracious when he called them spectator nations. I have a more truthful but less diplomatic name for countries that aided and abetted Sadaam’s regime.

  3. Ralf Goergens says:

    Well, Germany had nothing to do with the oil-for-food scandal, Rich.

  4. McGehee says:

    True, Ralf, but its current government sided with the French regime that is up to its neck in the scandal.

    In effect, that may not be aiding, but it sure did abet.

  5. Ralf Goergens says:

    True, Ralf, but its current government sided with the French regime that is up to its neck in the scandal.

    In effect, that may not be aiding, but it sure did abet.

    Fair enough; the company you keep and all that.