President Bush's Carlisle speech was unlikely to produce sensations or any detailed explanations concerning US policy on Iraq. It was addressed to rank-and-file Americans and was obviously part of his election campaign. But the draft resolution tabled by the US and Britain in the UN Security Council and published on the same date is a different matter.
Perhaps this was the ulterior motive? To offer rhetoric to the American public and a specific draft to the international community? But, as diplomatic sources in Moscow have told RIA Novosti, the draft, just like the speech, "has too many generalisations". To begin with, it says nothing about the minimum legitimacy for Iraq's interim government. The draft, true, mentions the need for the UN Security Council to approve its formation. But how legitimate will it appear to Iraqis? How will they be able to at least express their attitude to new ministers, president and head of government - what will they be able to tell their friends and neighbours?
The draft also fails to identify the legislation needed for the interim period. Does it mean the continued existence of the law on state administration drawn up earlier by the coalition authorities? The diplomatic sources also indicate that the Anglo-American draft does not breathe a word about an election law, yet preparations for it should start right after sovereignty is handed over to Iraq on June 30. Nor, incidentally, is there any clarity on the sovereignty issue. In his last speech Bush pledged full sovereignty. A UN Security Council resolution must record this, as well as proclaiming the end to the occupation.
It should be recalled that senior American officials have spoken about partial sovereignty, which implied Washington would continue to supervise Iraq's security. The international community criticised the US for this, and today Bush is stressing that sovereignty will be total. But is this really the case? The president said the US administration was proposing to help the Iraqi government establish a peaceful and safe life in areas that are still in chaos. Bush is speaking of assistance. Yet the US and British resolution suggests that a multinational force should be empowered to take all security and stability measures. The assumption is that a mechanism will be evolved for coordinating the efforts of the multinational force, a new Iraqi government and the Iraqi command. But the text of the resolution does not specify what this really means. It is still unclear what powers the remaining troops in Iraq will have and what the Iraqis should do if they disagree with the military's course of action or with their deployment on Iraqi soil in the wake of such independence.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair promises that an interim Iraqi government will have the right to veto foreign military operations. But if this is the case, why does the draft not say so?
To be fair, the draft resolution adds a proviso that the mandate of a multinational force may be reviewed at any moment at the request of the Iraqi government. But reviewed does not mean repealed.
On balance, there are no time constraints on foreign troops' presence in Iraq. So what is to be done in such a situation? Certainly Bush's words, that the troops would be pulled out as soon the Iraqis ask, cannot be taken at face value. After all, the White House may decide that the fight against terrorism in Iraq is not yet over and the US cannot leave Iraq because it has American security interests to safeguard.
And while nothing is certain about the mandate of a multinational force, few countries other than those with troops already in Iraq are likely to join it.
Nor does the draft resolution specify interim government controls over the national security forces or Iraq's natural resources. Yet without them, the diplomatic sources say, Iraq's sovereignty will be limited.
It is also necessary to clarify the international community's efforts to rebuild Iraq. Who will administer money from the Iraq development fund, and will fair competition be guaranteed? Further: the draft resolution welcomes the intention of some of the countries to write off Iraqi debts, but fails to say that these countries may operate in Iraq unimpeded, both with forgiven and outstanding debts.
Another flaw in the resolution is that it makes no mention of the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Moscow thinks that this issue should be closed once and for all, and the IAEA and UNMOVIC missions should be wound up. It appears that a great deal of work still needs to be done on the resolution. The US and Britain should take into account the remarks made by all the UN Security Council members and the recommendations of Lahdar Brahimi, special representative of the UN secretary-general to Iraq, who is continuing consultations in Baghdad about an interim Iraqi government.