Expected Council Action
The Council is due to receive the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and a briefing on its contents and developments in the country from Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of UNAMI.
The Council seems likely to extend the mandate of UNAMI, which expires on 28 July.
The Council also expects the second report of the Secretary-General on the post-Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) mechanism. At press time it was unclear whether the Council would consider the report in July.
Key Recent Developments
A number of notable political developments continued to highlight divisions amongst Iraq’s political elite. On 30 April, the Higher Judicial Council (HJC) brought further charges against Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi in the killing of six judges. On 8 May, Interpol issued a Red Notice alert for the arrest of al-Hashemi, who was in Istanbul at the time. (An Interpol Red Notice seeks the arrest or provisional arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition.) On 11 May, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said in response to a press question that al-Hashemi was receiving medical treatment in Turkey. On 15 May, a trial in absentia commenced, with al-Hashemi continuing to deny the allegedly politically motivated charges against him.
On 13 April, Faraj al-Haidari, head of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), was detained on suspicion of misusing state funds, according to a statement released by the HJC. Commenting on the arrest, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said in a 14 April press statement that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was “seeking to postpone or cancel the election.” (Al-Maliki has been repeatedly accused of seeking to consolidate control over the IHEC, whose independence is viewed as essential in ensuring that the provincial elections early next year and parliamentary elections in 2014 are free and fair.)
On 28 April, senior Iraqi politicians met in Arbil, including President Jalal Talabani; Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi; Massud Barzani, President of the autonomous Kurdistan region; Iyad Allawi, head of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc; and al-Sadr. In a statement, the leaders called for “mechanisms that can solve the instability” and highlighted “the necessity of looking into solutions to end the (political) crisis.”
On 2 June, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak said in a statement that “Maliki staying on as prime minister will expose national unity to danger and will lead to the division of the country.”
Kobler encouraged all parties to engage in inclusive dialogue following a meeting with Talabani and Barzani on 13 June.
Violent incidents continued to mar Iraq’s security. Reportedly a total of 132 Iraqis died and a further 248 were wounded in attacks in May. Moreover, by 18 June, a series of bombings and attacks across Iraq had reportedly resulted in at least 135 deaths and more than 500 injured.
On the issue of Camp Ashraf, in an 11 June UNAMI statement, Kobler “urged the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to relocate to Camp Hurriya without delay.” (Camp Ashraf, situated in Diyala province, once housed more than 3,000 Iranian exiles belonging to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Iran [MEK], an organisation opposed to the government in Tehran and also on the US terrorist list. Some two-thirds of the residents moved to the new camp after UNAMI signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Iraq on 25 December 2011. However, the MEK has reportedly halted its transfer of the remaining residents and has reduced contact with the Iraqi government and the UN.)
Gennady Tarasov, the High-Level Coordinator for Iraq-Kuwait missing persons and property, briefed Council members in consultations on the latest report of the Secretary-General (S/2012/443) on 19 June. Council members released a press statement (SC/10680) the next day stating they were “encouraged by the recent positive developments in Iraqi-Kuwaiti bilateral relations.” Council members also supported the Secretary-General’s opinion that both sides should begin exploring other arrangements on Iraq-Kuwait issues. The financing of the high-level coordinator was renewed for another six months.
Human Rights-Related Developments
According to a joint report published on 30 May by the Human Rights Office of UNAMI and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “the human rights situation in Iraq remains fragile as the country continues its transition from years of dictatorship, conflict and violence to peace and democracy.” Commenting on the report, Kobler added that it “highlights a number of shortcomings, some of which are of serious concern and need to be urgently addressed by the Iraqi authorities. There is no democracy without respect for human rights.”
The key issue for the Council is to determine UNAMI’s contribution towards the stability of Iraq.
Another key issue for the Council is the ongoing high level of sectarian violence in the aftermath of the arrest warrant issued for al-Hashemi.
A closely related issue is the extent to which UNAMI can be helpful in mitigating this situation.
A further issue for the Council is whether the post-DFI mechanism is functioning in a satisfactory fashion.
Different political blocs remain divided over power-sharing, with key ministerial posts, such as defence and interior, being vacant for months.
On UNAMI, the Council could renew the mandate without substantial changes to its scope or composition. The Council could also address Iraq’s political situation in the same resolution, including some or all of the following elements:
expressing concern about the impact of violence on Iraqi civilians;
urging Iraq’s political leaders to resolve differences through political dialogue; and
urging Iraq to finalise the formation of its government by filling all vacant ministerial posts based on inclusiveness.
On the post-DFI issues the Council could take no action at present while continuing to monitor the progress of the post-DFI mechanism until the audit is conducted. (The Secretary-General’s report [S/2011/795] notes the appointment of the firm Ernst & Young to conduct the 2011 audit of the DFI and its successor account.)
Council and Wider Dynamics
Most Council members continue to view Iraq as a routine issue. Some Council members feel that the current mandate of UNAMI is peripheral and that, as a political mission, it should be more focused on mitigating Iraq’s domestic political impasse and the ensuing violence. These members feel that there remains a serious threat to Iraq’s overall stability under the current volatile political and security climate. However, other members do not view the surge in violence following the US withdrawal as particularly abnormal.
The US is the lead country on Iraq issues in general, and the UK is the lead on Iraq-Kuwait issues.