06/09/2004: Juan Cole weighs in....
The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a new resolution on Iraq granting legitimacy to the caretaker government of Iyad Allawi. The resolution gives the new Iraqi government substantially more sovereignty than had been envisaged by the US in the initial draft, and the Bush administration essentially compromised in order to have an achievement for the election season.I've not had time fully to think over all the ramifications of this, but this is quite a different state of affairs than the state of affairs the warhawks were expecting by now. To the extent that this means that Iraq has a government that is not a mere U.S. puppet, that could be good for the Iraqi people. It'll be interesting to see what happens.
The resolution will make it easier for the Allawi government to gain the Iraq seat at the UN and at organizations like the Arab League. It also constrains the US from undertaking major military actions (think: Fallujah) without extensive consultation with the Iraqi government, and establishes a joint committee of US and Iraqi representatives to carry out those discussions. This military "partnership" was substituted successfully for a stricter French proposal that the Iraqi government have a veto over US military movements in Iraq. Still, the language went far beyond what the US had wanted.
That the US and the UK had to give away so much to get the resolution shows how weak they are in Iraq. The problem is that they have created a failed state in Iraq, and this new piece of paper really changes nothing on the ground (see the next news item, below).
The Kurds on the other hand were absolutely furious that the UN did not mention the TAL [Transitional Administrative Law], which they see as their safeguard against a tyranny of the Arab majority. It stipulates that the status quo will obtain in Kurdistan until an elected parliament crafts a permanent constitution next year this time, and that the three Kurdish provinces will have a veto over that new constitution if they do not like it. The Kurdish leaders threatened in a letter to President Bush on Sunday to boycott the elections this coming winter if there is any move to curtail their sovereigny or to rescind or amend the interim constitution. Ash-Sharq al-Awsat's Shirzad Abdul Rahman reports today that the Kurdish street is anxious about the future, feeling that it has been left up in the air.
This entire process is a big win for Sistani. It is now often forgotten that the Bush administration had had no intention of involving the UN in this way in Iraq. The original plan was to have stage-managed council-based elections in May, producing a new government to which sovereignty would be handed over by the US directly. It was Sistani who derailed those plans as undemocratic. When the involvement of the UN was first broached last winter by Interim Governing Council members, the Americans were said to have been "extremely offended). It was Sistani who demanded that Kofi Annan send a special envoy to Iraq. It was Sistani who insisted that free and fair elections must be held as soon as humanly possible. It was Sistani who insisted that the UN midwife the new Iraqi government, and not the US and the UK alone. It was Sistani who insisted that the UN resolution not mention the Transitional Administrative Law.
On another front, Cole notes how the "yes men" of the bAdministration, and Bush's incurious, "govern by executive summary" management style has apparently come to bite him in the ass with respect to relationships with other nations:
The Wall Street Journal's revelation of White House counsels' memoranda permitting what most people would consider torture-- on the basis of the president's position as commander in chief in wartime-- is among the most chilling things we have seen from a Bush administration not lacking in chills for civil libertarians. It seems clear from the anger expressed by senators like Joe Biden in the hearings addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday that they now suspect Bush himself authorized the Abu Ghuraib torture routines. And, they are helpless to do anything about it.This isn't helping the war on Terra™.
The revelations about the torture memos have cast a cloud over Bush's presentations at the G8 summit in Georgia. Since the Bush centerpiece at that conference was supposed to be promoting democracy in the Middle East, the Torturegate revelations pointed to US feet of clay. Wire services noted Bush's complete failure with Middle Eastern leaders at the summit:"In an effort to demonstrate engagement with Arabs on the issues, Mr Bush invited the leaders of a number of Islamic countries to attend a lunch on Wednesday with G8 leaders, at their own expense. But leaders of some key nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, turned down the invitation, and Qatar was purposely snubbed because of administration anger at al-Jazeera's coverage of the Iraq war. Ms Rice cited scheduling issues as the reason Morocco and Egypt - one of the effort's harshest critics - will not appear."That sounds pretty sad.
Len on 06.09.04 @ 11:46 AM CST