First Published: 2008-01-17

UN sees Iraq progress despite misgivings

United Nations envoy to Baghdad says to present positive picture of progress in Iraq in his report.


Middle East Online

De Mistura: ‘We are going to compliment the [Iraqi] government’

BAGHDAD - The United Nations envoy to Baghdad said on Wednesday he would present a positive picture of progress in Iraq in a report to the Security Council despite earlier having serious misgivings about reconciliation efforts. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said the passing of a key law allowing former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to return to government jobs had changed what had been a pessimistic view of progress in a crucial year for Iraq.

"At the beginning of the year we were worried ... we were genuinely concerned by the lack of progress on national dialogue," de Mistura said.

"Today that has substantially changed. It has changed our mind from being worried or from being pessimistic," he said.

The law on reintegrating former Baathists passed on Saturday. It was the first in a series of bills Washington has pressed the Shiite Islamist-led government to pass to draw Sunni Arabs who held sway under Saddam back into the political process.

De Mistura had said in an interview with France's Le Figaro newspaper, published earlier on Wednesday but conducted almost a week before the bill was passed, that Iraq's sectarian groups lacked any true spirit of reconciliation.

He said in that interview that Iraq was running out of time and had six months to overcome distrust between the Shiite-dominated cabinet and Sunni Arabs and make political progress or risk a swift return to violence.


The passage of the bill was even more encouraging because it came at a time of sustained security improvements, de Mistura said.

"The current dialogue we are seeing between the government and Sunnis is also encouraging," de Mistura said, referring to efforts to get the main Sunni Arab bloc to return to the government, from which it withdrew last August.

De Mistura said he would leave later this week to deliver a progress report to the Security Council.

"We are going to compliment the government," he said.

The government must nevertheless press ahead with reconciliation efforts and pass other key laws, including a revenue-sharing oil law and a provincial elections law, he said.

"Iraq needs to maintain the momentum, 2008 is going to be a crucial year," he said.

De Mistura told Le Figaro that progress was needed, otherwise insurgents would be tempted to return to violence.

"Iraq will not be the same country at the end of 2008: the US officials will have changed...the international community will have modified its positions," he told the newspaper.


Top US general visits airbase in fight for Mosul

No Russian air strikes on Aleppo in 7 days

Thousands of Yemenis await lifting of Coalition blockade

Iran calls for more Asian investment

Egypt rolls out austerity programme

US, UK expect Raqa offensive within weeks

Sudan's Bashir to appoint PM for first time since coup

Israel army says soldier wounded by gunfire on Lebanese border

Students among 22 dead as raids hit Syria school

Israel charges 13 Jews with celebrating murder of Palestinians

Revolutionary Guards commander says Iranian firms should lead oil projects

Egyptian officer accidentally shoots dead Israeli teen

IS members ‘shave beards’ as Iraqi forces approach Mosul

US praises Qatar moves to deny jihadists funds

Clashes between protesters, police in Diyarbakir after Turkey arrests mayors

Saudi financial position strong despite oil prices says minister

Iran develops 'suicide drone'

UN envoy to Yemen presents peace proposal to Huthis

Turkey says US must extradite Gulen to avoid damaging ties

Mosul survivors recount fleeing IS 'caliphate'

Report finds Israeli forces could have avoided killings

NATO flies first surveillance mission backing anti-IS coalition

Russian FM says Mosul offensive equivalent to Moscow's Aleppo bombing

Saudi Arabia denies it imposed Yemen blockade

Syria Kurds say Turkey wants to prevent Raqa recapture

Anger at Israel national theatre show in occupied West Bank

UN receives reports of dozens of IS atrocities near Mosul

Hundreds protest against UN 'complicity' in rebel-held Yemen capital

Turkey FM says ground operation in Iraq a possibility

Iraqi forces retake town from IS

Iran nuclear negotiator cleared of spying charges

Al-Shabaab in suicide bomb attack on AU base in Somalia

Gunmen kill two policemen in eastern Saudi Arabia

Iraqi paramilitary to block IS from fleeing Mosul for Syria

Two imams arrested in Ibiza over 'Islamic State support'

US general raises Yemen concerns with Saudi officials

Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul face stiff resistance

At least 10 hurt in southern Turkey explosion

French FM annoys Turkey by contrasting states of emergency

UN planning for 150,000 displaced by Mosul battle

UAE jails Sudanese man for planning attacks on immigrants

Qatar in 3 days of mourning for former emir

16 civilians dead in bombardment of Syria's rebel-held Idlib

Civilians suffer in IS 'smoke war'

74 jihadists dead after IS assault on Kirkuk