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.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli