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.

 

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison

Saudi king says Palestinians have 'right' to Jerusalem

Erdogan urges world to recognise Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

Saudi King says determined to confront corruption

South Sudan needs $1.7 billion humanitarian aid in 2018

UAE oil giant floats 10 percent of retail arm to strong interest

US skeptical about Putin's declaration of military victory in Syria

Growing concern about rise of far-right in Austria

Saudi, UAE seeks to help West Africa fight terrorism

Somali journalist dies after Mogadishu bombing

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim