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February 19, 2004
After All That ...

After a highly-publicized effort to inject itself into the question of power transfer in Iraq, the UN has determined that the US was right all along and that direct elections will not be possible in the near future:

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will endorse the U.S. position that direct elections cannot be held in Iraq before the United States hands over political power to Iraqis on June 30, senior U.N. officials said Wednesday. But Annan, scheduled to brief the Security Council and other U.N. members Thursday, will delay for at least another week his recommendations on the sensitive question of how to choose a provisional government, officials said.

Annan's decision is a major boost for the Bush administration, which has struggled to address the demand of Iraq's leading cleric that direct elections be used to select an interim government, rather than the complex system of regional caucuses that the United States had proposed. Washington has turned to the United Nations to adjudicate the issue.

This decision will boost the Coalition's credibility in its handling of the occupation and may help get the Shi'a imams to settle down a bit. The cleric who had insisted on elections, Sistani, had also agreed to abide by the UN's decision. As the article states, this is a good opportunity to give the UN the "vital role" the US has talked about since Baghdad fell. But the US is also wary of the Security Council using this opportunity to grab control after they couldn't be bothered to enforce their own resolutions -- seventeen of them -- demanding that Saddam meet his agreements to verifiably disarm and cease from importing offensive weapons:

One State Department official voiced concern about the possibility that member nations might call for a Security Council resolution to formally approve a new plan for Iraq's transition, which could complicate and delay the process with just over four months remaining. ...

France and Germany, the council's two toughest critics of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, said today that the Security Council should adopt a new resolution. Germany's ambassador to the United Nations, Gunter Pleuger, said previous resolutions on postwar Iraq would not be sufficient to reflect the dramatic political changes in Iraq.

"It would also be desirable to have a new resolution to draw [in] those countries who are really needed, not so much the Europeans but also Arab-speaking countries and Islamic countries," he said.

The US needs to be firm on this point. The UNSC had their opportunity to get involved in February of last year and defiantly sat on their hands, led by these same two countries as well as Russia. Since then, we have discovered why -- as plenty of captured intelligence shows that all three were selling illegal arms to Saddam and government officials in France and Russia, at least, were taking oil-for-food bribes in the form of oil brokerage.

Now, just when a delicate balancing act in Iraq is necessary for a successful transition to civilian control, Germany proposes to bring in a lot more people to stick their thumbs into the mix, including the spectacularly stupid proposal to get Islamic countries involved -- as if the various kleptocracies and Islamofascist regimes surrounding Iraq would support a democratic and free republic. It was this thinking that makes the UN such a laughingstock, and why the Coalition was correct in limiting their involvement from the start of military operations.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 19, 2004 5:42 AM

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» U.N. Failures from Cranial Cavity
President Bush has been catching hell over Iraq policy from both sides of the political spectrum, in some cases justified. His apparent first choice to bypass the UN was the first of many mistakes the Administration has made. It was only after intense ... [Read More]

Tracked on February 19, 2004 7:34 AM

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