Iraq Needs Multinational Force, Foreign
United Nations -- Iraq needs the 160,000-troop multinational force (MNF) to
remain in the country without any fixed departure date, Iraq's foreign minister
told the U.N. Security Council June 3.
"The continued presence of the multination force is more a need for Iraq than
for the U.S., the U.K. or Poland," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said,
referring to nations with troops in the multinational force. "I stress that any
premature departure of international forces would lead to chaos and the real
possibility of a civil war in Iraq."
A premature departure of the multinational troops "would cause a humanitarian
crisis and provide a foothold for terrorists to launch their evil campaign in
our country and beyond our borders," he said.
Iraq is not yet prepared to handle its own security, Zebari said, adding: "I say
that without any sense of hesitation or feeling of shame."
Zebari met with the Security Council two days after being appointed foreign
minister in the new interim government that will assume sovereignty from the
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) June 30. He flew to New York to discuss
the council's draft resolution, presented by the United States and United
Kingdom, which would endorse the restoration of Iraq's sovereignty and define
the relationship between the United Nations, the coalition forces and Iraq after
the end of the month.
Members of the 15-nation Security Council have been eager to get input from
members of the newly appointed interim government on the resolution before
continuing negotiations on the text and moving to a vote in the next few weeks.
Responding to some Security Council members who want to see the resolution set a
departure date for the multinational force, the minister said: "I'll be very
honest. You can ask any member of the new government. A call for an immediate
withdrawal or a fixed timetable for withdrawal would be very, very unhelpful. It
would be used by our enemies to complicate problems even further."
"The pattern of these attacks are all politically motivated. At every stage you
see those forces who want to derail the process coming back and playing politics
with bombings," he said.
Nevertheless, Zebari said, "the transitional Iraqi government and the new Iraqi
government must have a say in the future presence of these [multinational]
forces and we urge that this be reflected in the new resolution."
Zebari also said that it is important that the Security Council be united behind
the resolution and pass it unanimously. "That will help us to move forward," he
The minister said that Iraqi military and police must be under Iraqi leadership.
But with the relationship between the multinational force and the interim
government, Zebari said, "we should use our imagination" to define the
coordination of Iraqi forces and leadership and the multinational force "so they
can work as partners in facing the security threats we are challenged with."
The arrangements should "neither compromise the sovereignty of the interim
government nor the right of the multinational force to defend itself," Zebari
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said that the proposed draft resolution "salutes
the new moment that we are facing in Iraq's history. The occupation of Iraq will
end. The Iraqi people will assume full responsibility and authority for
governing a proud and rich nation."
"The council's timely passage of this resolution will bear witness to a
fundamental change in the relationship between the Security Council and Iraq
after nearly 14 years following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait," said
Negroponte, who is the U.S. ambassador-designate to Iraq.
In the days ahead, the ambassador noted, the U.S. and multinational force
partners will discuss with the incoming Iraqi government the nature of the
"This will be a true partnership, founded on shared goals and tangible
cooperation at all levels -- from the soldiers on foot patrols to the highest
levels of two sovereign governments," Negroponte said.
Zebari also asked the Security Council to include in the resolution an
endorsement of the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL). The TAL, he said, "is
the only legal framework and the interim arrangement that reflects the wishes of
the majority of the Iraqi people for a free, unified, and democratic Iraq.
Principles enshrined in TAL reflect Iraq's path of reform and democratization."
The minister said that the interim government wants "a new and unambiguous"
resolution that "underlines the transfer of full sovereignty to the people of
Iraq and their representatives" and marks a clear departure from previous
Security Council resolutions passed since the end of the war that "legitimized
the occupation of our country."
"By removing the label of occupation we will deprive the terrorists and
anti-democratic forces of a rallying point to foment violence in our country,"
He said the resolution must invest full authority in the interim government to
run Iraq's affairs, make its own decisions, have authority over security
matters, administer and manage its resources and assets, and have a leading role
in "mechanisms to monitor the disbursements of its resources."
By Judy Aita Washington File United Nations Correspondent