NAM meeting further erodes US position
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: A Security Council meeting on Tuesday afternoon called by Malaysia, head of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), contributed to the further erosion of the belligerent American-British stand on Iraq.
The meeting, which was addressed by several leading members of the movement, reflected the widespread disapproval of Washington’s determination to attack Iraq, with or without UN approval, and remove Saddam Hussein. At the recent NAM meeting in Kuala Lumpur, member states declared themselves opposed to war and called for a peaceful settlement of the Iraq crisis that many see as entirely of American making. They argue that there is nothing that Iraq has done in recent years to cause the United States, which has suddenly woken up to Iraqi “intransigence”, to “start beating the drums of war.” Tuesday’s Security Council meeting heard many of the same arguments from NAM member states. The last thing the United States and its principal ally on Iraq, Britain, want at this stage is further public opposition from UN member states of their declared intention to remove Saddam Hussein whom they see as a danger to their security.
According to sources at the UN, contrary to expectations, the United States is unlikely to force a vote on Iraq this week. On the other hand, it will continue to use all possible and remaining means to be able to win nine votes at the Security Council. Washington seems prepared to have a successful resolution vetoed because it will then be able to justify any military action it takes by pleading that it has the backing of the majority of Security Council members. The French or Russian veto will be explained away as having been politically motivated.
A modified US-UK resolution is in the works now with inbuilt “benchmarks” or points of compliance for Iraq. What those benchmarks turn out to be and how much time Iraq will be allowed remains to be seen. What is more certain is that the benchmarks will be harsh and the time allowed short, in which case, even a modified resolution would face the same opposition as the present one and eventual defeat if pressed.
Six undecided offer 45-day ultimatum
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council’s six undecided nations on the Iraq issue have proposed a 45-day deadline for Baghdad to demonstrate that it is fully meeting its disarmament obligations, Cameroon’s UN ambassador said on Tuesday. That would extend by more than a month an ultimatum of March 17 proposed earlier by the United States, Britain and Spain. But British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said he did not support an extension beyond the end of the month. “We have proposed 45 days, but this is open to negotiation,” Cameroon’s Martin Belinga-Eboutou said. He said the six swing votes — Angola, Chile, Guinea, Mexico and Pakistan in addition to Cameroon — had presented their ideas to Greenstock and were waiting for a reply. The six also proposed adding to the resolution a series of f ‘benchmarks’, or specific disarmament demands for Iraq to meet to show it was complying with previous Security Council resolutions.—Reuters