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.

SECURITY IMPROVEMENTS

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.

 

Jeddah meeting bears no fruit on Yemen conflict

Tunisia parliament to vote on cabinet proposal

Turkey shells Kurdish fighters in Syria after warning

Oil prices fall on Saudi doubt on output cut

French court suspends burkini ban

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian in occupied West Bank

11 Turkish police officers killed in Cizre bomb attack claimed by PKK

Tears as evacuation starts in Syria's Daraya

Turkey PM denies Syria operation singling out Kurds

Kerry, Lavrov meet for talks on Syria

Kuwait arrests govt employee promoting IS online

Kerry in Saudi for talks on regional conflicts

UN Syria envoy expects 'impact' from Kerry-Lavrov meeting

Iraq parliament votes to impeach defense minister

Russia says will cooperate in Syria chemical attacks probe

Iraq forces take key town south of Mosul

Hamas to leave name off ballot in Palestinian elections

Iranian navy in 'unsafe' intercept of US destroyer

Three wounded in PKK attack on Turkey opposition chief's convoy

Erdogan to inaugurate Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge

China to train Syrian troops

Turkey reinforces ground forces across border into Syria

Turkey says 'every right' to intervene if Kurds fail to withdraw

UN rights chief urges international probe of Yemen violations

Tunisia unity government to remain unchanged

Raped teen who took own life finally gets justice in Morocco

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet

Syria regime, Kurds blast Turkish incursion

Biden: Washington told Kurds not to cross Euphrates

Israeli court shuns plea to unchain Palestinian hunger striker

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing

Kerry to meet Russia's Lavrov in Geneva on Friday

Kurdish forces in Syria prime target for Turkey

Drone strike kills 2 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Iran yet to decide on OPEC limits

Iraq forces advance south of Mosul

Muslim women say swimsuit uproar is 'absurd'

Gaza animals leave 'world's worst' zoo

Hasakeh: key flashpoint for Syria regime, Kurds

Kerry heads to Saudi on Yemen peace push

British woman killed in Australian stabbing

Hajj stoning to be shortened after deadly stampede

Turkey launches operation to clear Syria border town from IS

Israel raids West Bank arms factories