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December 18, 2003
Kofi Annan Wants More Substantial Role for MIA UN

Kofi Annan today demanded a larger and more specifically delineated role in the reconstruction of Iraq, and requested a meeting with both the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition:

Annan, clearly frustrated that Iraqi Governing Council or the U.S.-led coalition running the country have not given him specific answers, said it was time to sit down with representatives from both bodies. "It has to be a three-way conversation," the secretary-general said. "Once we have that, I will make a judgment."

Make a judgment on what? Annan won't even allow a UN presence in Iraq because he claims that the Baghdad area is too dangerous for UN personnel. Before anyone takes the UN seriously, they will have to demonstrate some backbone in dealing with security issues in Iraq. The last thing the Iraqis and the Coalition needs is to hand over authority to the UN and then watch them bug out like they did in October, or ignore violence and attempted genocide like they did in Bosnia. To put it more bluntly, the UN and Annan have to pay some dues and build some credibility.

Another issue certain to be on the Jan. 15 agenda is the return of the U.N.'s international staff. ... The United States is pressing to get U.N. staff back in Iraq quickly, but U.N. officials indicate that Annan will likely stick to his current plan for the United Nations to operate out of Cyprus and Jordan.

Annan and senior U.N. officials have argued that the United Nations can do a lot from outside Iraq, with possible trips into the country. But Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Tuesday U.N. staff need to be on the ground to play an effective role in the complex political process.

So they want to be in charge of Iraq but want to run it ... from an island in the Mediterranean that currently is hotly contested between the Greeks and Turks on one hand, and from the territory of one of Saddam's enablers on the other hand. While Annan is at it, why not just open a third office in Damascus, between the Ba'ath party headquarters and a Hamas outreach center? That ought to make the Iraqis feel really good about the neutrality of the UN. Can anyone come up with a better plan for absolute failure?

What Annan is really saying is that he wants to be in charge of Iraq but with American and British forces at his command, instead of Bush and Blair. Supposedly this will "internationalize" the occupation, but what it really means is that American and British soldiers will still be attacked and killed without American/British command and control to operate freely to prevent it. On January 15, I certainly hope that tthe message Annan receives from the Anglo-American coalition is to either get his ass back into Baghdad and start putting up, or to get the hell out of the way and start shutting up. The Iraqis may not even be willing to give him the choice of the former.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 18, 2003 9:16 PM

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