Global Policy Forum

New UN Resolution Will Give


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
May 22, 2004

The United States says it will give Iraq's new interim government a decisive voice in whether a multinational force remains in the country, and has agreed with other Security Council members to transfer full sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30. The extent of the caretaker government's powers has been a subject of intense discussion among members of the U.N. Security Council as they await a new resolution dealing with the end of U.S.-British occupation and the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty.

U.S. deputy ambassador James Cunningham said Friday that the council was united on the question of sovereignty, which became an issue when U.S. Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman said the Iraqi interim government should have only limited sovereignty. This drew strong protests from Iraqi leaders and Secretary of State Colin Powell later stepped in to say the restoration of sovereignty would be complete. ''The whole council is agreed that it's full sovereignty,'' Cunningham told The Associated Press on Friday. ''There's no limitation on the sovereignty.''

Cunningham's comments came as U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tried to get broad agreement on the makeup of the interim government. The United States and Britain have been waiting for Brahimi to come up with his proposals for a prime minister, president, two vice presidents, and the heads of 26 ministries before drafting a resolution. Brahimi had said he wanted the government decided by the end of May, but diplomats said this might slip. Asked after a dinner Friday in Baghdad whether he had reached a decision on an interim government, Brahimi replied, ''Take it easy, take it easy.''

Washington and London might go ahead and circulate a resolution next week if they get an idea of Brahimi's proposals, council diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Another issue being debated was how long foreign troops would remain in Iraq. Powell has said the U.S.-led coalition force will leave if the interim government asks it to, though he doesn't expect this to happen. France and Germany have said they want the new resolution to include a cutoff date for the multinational force. Cunningham told AP the new resolution will not call for an indefinite extension of the multinational force, known as the MNF, but it won't propose a limit either.

It will make clear that the presence of a multinational force will be ''kept under review and that the Iraqis will have a decisive voice,'' he said. ''It will be up to the Iraqis to decide whether they want the MNF there or not, and we expect that they will want the MNF there.'' Another outstanding issue is the relationship between the multinational force, the Iraqi army, and the interim Iraqi government.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday that Iraqi forces will work for an Iraqi general ''in partnership'' with coalition forces, under a unified command structure led by an American general. The Iraqi troops will have the right to ''opt out'' of any military operation, he said.

The Germans and others want the resolution to include a consultative body to ensure cooperation between the interim government and the multinational force. Cunningham told the council on Wednesday that the Iraqis should decide the limits on the power of the interim government during the consultations Brahimi is currently holding in Baghdad. It is widely expected that the interim government will not make laws or enter into treaties or long-term economic or financial agreements, leaving these decisions for the elected government that will take over early next year, diplomats said.

But the resolution is expected to give the interim government control over Iraq's oil and gas revenues, which are now deposited in the Development Fund for Iraq along with previously frozen assets. Many council members want the new Iraqi government to use the fund's revenue to finance the country's budget, and they want an international audit body to continue to maintain oversight of its operation, diplomats said. Brahimi had said he wanted the government decided by the end of May, but diplomats said this might slip.

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