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U.S. Invites the UN to Share Troop Burden in Iraq

iraqThe entire world expected it. Neo-conservatives in the American Administration stubbornly opposed it. But the White House had to do it, after all.

The Washington administration has officially confirmed that next week the United States will submit to the UN Security Council the draft of a new resolution authorizing the creation of multinational forces in Iraq. In exchange, the Americans are willing to transfer some of political authority in Iraq to the UN.

As it always happens, the trick is in the details. The extent of the UN authority is yet unknown. One thing is clear, however: while agreeing to submit the draft of a rather defeatist in the eyes of the White House resolution, President Bush adamantly insists that the multinational forces in Iraq (if they are created under the UN aegis) must be placed solely under U.S. command.

Certainly, the United States did not act out of good will when it made a sudden concession to the UN. Paul Bremmer, the major American administrator in Iraq, can repeat as many times as he wants that "Iraq is not a country in chaos, and Baghdad is not a city in chaos," but that is exactly how the situation there can be described at present - deadly dangerous chaos.

Every day brings new evidence of the most unpleasant truth for the occupational contingent: the Americans have misjudged the strength of their forces and simply cannot ensure the security of any important facility in Iraq, be it the UN office in Baghdad or a town mosque. None of somewhat prominent figures in Iraq can be certain that he would not follow the fate of the Iraqi envoy to the UN, Sergio Vieira de Mello, or the Shiite leader ayatollah Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim - the victims of the latest explosions. In front of the eyes of the concerned world community Iraq is quickly transforming into a Vietnam-style swamp, where all attempts of the coalition forces to establish some sort of order simply get stuck.

As it happens, Iraq after Saddam is more dangerous than Iraq under Saddam.

The realization of this fact has given a start to most undesirable to the American administration processes both in Iraq and in the United States.

On Wednesday, members of the ruling council of Iraq, created by the Americans, could not find one of the influential Shiite leaders, Mohammed Bahr al-Olum, at their scheduled meeting. He had resigned from the council stating that this organ was incapable of making positive changes to impotent actions taken by the Americans to establish order in the country. Al-Olum appealed to his fellow countrymen not to rely upon the foreigners and practice self-defense instead. The Islamic leader suggested that armed people's militia should be created to "fill in the security vacuum."

Paul Bremmer's team should have been terrified by one detail - today, such ideas are not being born in the minds of fanatical enemies of the United States, but come from a representative of the rather liberal clergy.

By the way, who are the enemies? One of the major problems for Americans in Iraq is the lack of a clear definition of the enemy. The military coalition command has a vague idea of who exactly is shooting at soldiers from hiding places, filling cars with explosives and putting booby traps under American HUMMERS.

It would be too naive to call all representatives of the Iraqi resistance "Islamic terrorists," like the American administration does. Apparently, the administration itself has realized this fact and ultimately appealed to the UN for help.

Another incentive for the forced appeal to the world community coming from the White House is the worry that the Iraqi factor might become decisive in the next presidential elections campaign, which is gradually picking up speed in the United States. Democratic presidential candidates like Howard Dean, for example, are more than eager to make the Iraqi issue the core of his election strategy.

Besides, the explosions in Najaf and Baghdad got even mostly Republican Congress worried. Lawmakers from the congressional budget committee demand the reduction of the U.S. military contingent in Iraq by half, otherwise, they claim, the United States will become "naked" before the potential threat to its national interests somewhere else on the planet. The White House's plea for assistance before the Security Council will not be limited to a simple transfer of responsibilities the Americans failed to carry out themselves to international forces consisting, for example, of Indian, Pakistani or Turkish troops.

There is certainly another important goal the Americans want to achieve, namely - they would like to share the financial burden of the post-war reconstruction of Iraq with the entire world community, as if saying, "we destroyed some stuff, let us repair it together."

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, probably, expressed this idea most candidly. According to his calculations, the reconstruction process in Iraq will cost the U.S. about 30 billion dollars. Half of the amount will be covered by sales of the Iraqi oil, he believes. "But where would the second half appear from?" he asked during one of his recent TV interviews and later answered himself, "We will have to make some serious pleas to the world community." Most certainly, the Washington administration hopes that the new UN resolution that authorizes the creation of the multinational contingent in Iraq might well become a preamble to such an appeal. The former anti-war proponents, and Russia in particular, not only welcome such a document, but actively participate in its preparation. As RF President Vladimir Putin stated during the joint press conference with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, a new UN resolution on Iraq had been prepared "in its draft form." Moscow would certainly want to fill the power vacuum in Iraq as soon as possible, using the UN as the major political instrument to organize the exhausted Iraqi society.

It appears that the UN role will become again the "apple of discord" during the discussions in the UN Security Council. Most probably, Russia and France will not be satisfied with a simple copy of UN Resolution 1483, where the UN role is limited to a mere servant of the coalition countries. Only the significant and comprehensive participation of the UN in the political and economic restoration of Iraq will lead to the accomplishment of the major goal - to return Iraq's national treasures and territory under the sovereign rule of its people.

Vladimir Simonov, RIAN

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