U.N. Going Back to Iraq

The United Nations will step up its efforts in Iraq after a four year hiatus.

The Security Council voted Friday to expand the United Nations’ role in Iraq in a move aimed at promoting talks among ethnic and religious rivals and winning support from the country’s neighbors. The resolution, approved unanimously, authorizes the U.N., at the request of the Iraqi government, to promote political talks among Iraqis and a regional dialogue on issues including border security, energy and refugees.

The United Nations pulled out of Iraq in October 2003 after two bombings at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad and a spate of attacks on humanitarian workers. The first bombing, on Aug. 19, 2003, killed the top U.N. envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others. The U.N. allowed 35 staffers to return in August 2004, but the numbers remains small because of security concerns.

The United States and Britain, cosponsors of the resolution, believe the world body, which is viewed by many as a more neutral party, can facilitate talks among feuding parties.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the resolution “marks an important new phase in the U.N.’s role in Iraq,” and expressed hope it will be “a springboard to greater international support for Iraq’s government and people.” “This resolution underscores the widespread belief that what happens in Iraq has strategic implications not only for the region but for the entire world,” he said.

Given that all agree that the main obstacles in Iraq are political, this is indeed a positive sign. Presumably, it reflects some confidence by members of the Security Council that 1) there is at least some glimmer of hope for diplomacy to work at this juncture and that 2) the security environment is safe enough to give this a go.

I remain skeptical that we can achieve much in the near term and don’t think we have a long term without dramatic improvements. Still, I’ll take whatever good news that comes our way.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, United Nations, , ,
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. Triumph says:

    Given that all agree that the main obstacles in Iraq are political, this is indeed a positive sign.

    The only reason Kofi Anan’s stooge, Ban-Ki Moonie, is bringing the UN back to Iraq is to get re-engaged in the UN’s corruption racket.

    Now that things are beginning to turn for the better in Iraq, the UN bureaucrats are going there simply to siphon off reconstruction money.

  2. Michael says:

    Read the article, or heck, even the part of it James quoted. This was a US proposed resolution. The UN isn’t interfering, we’re asking them for help because we can’t get the Iraqis to stop fighting each other long enough to form a peaceful nation. Instead we are going to dump that problem off on the UN to solve.

    SAT question:
    Iraq is to the USA what Palestine was to __________

  3. legion says:

    Now that things are beginning to turn for the better in Iraq, the UN bureaucrats are going there simply to siphon off reconstruction money.

    Meh. Unless the UN just became a major shareholder in Halliburton/KBR, they ain’t gettin’ jack.