The UN received a much needed dose of perspective yesterday from Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s foreign minister.
In unusually tough language, the interim foreign minister accused the United Nations of failure in the face of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. He called for the world body to do better in efforts to return the country to full sovereignty.
"One year ago the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable. The UN as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years, and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in a horrifying testament to that failure. The UN must not fail the Iraqi people again."
Mr. Zebari had particularly harsh words for opponents of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. He cautioned Security Council members that their disagreements complicate efforts to return the country to Iraqi rule.
"Settling scores with the United States should not be at the cost of helping to bring stability to the Iraqi people," he said. "This squabbling over political differences takes a backseat to their daily struggle for security, jobs, basic freedoms, and all the rights the United Nations is chartered to uphold."[boldness added]
Ouch. I am sure this message was not received with open ears, but I hope the directness of Foreign Minister Zebari penetrated the thick skulls at the UN. At a minimum, I hope the UN considers their folly in how they created the Contact Group on Iraq.
Several of Mr. Zebari's most pointed barbs seemed directed at Secretary General Kofi Annan. In particular, he criticized Mr. Annan's formation of a Contact Group on Iraq without including any Iraqis.
"We insist on playing a full part in any initiatives that concern the future of our country," said Mr. Zebari. "Without Iraqi participation in discussions that have Iraqi interests at stake, such as the recently formed U.N. contact group, decisions taken cannot be held valid."[boldness added]
Well said Mr. Zebari. Both the UN and the US have considered what they believed to be their best interests in their actions over the last few years. However, the decisions of the US have also considered the best interests of the Iraqi people in sharp contrast to the UN. The Iraqi people know it and I hope their government officials have a long memory.