Government & Politics

Report of the Secretary-General Pursuant to Paragraph 6

Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 6 of resolution 1770 (2007)
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    United Nations S  /2008/19   Security Council Distr.: General14 January 2008Original: English 08-20659 (E) 150108 *0820659* Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 6of resolution 1770 (2007)I. Introduction 1. In paragraph 6 of resolution 1770 (2007), adopted on 10 August 2007, theSecurity Council requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council on aquarterly basis on the fulfilment of the responsibilities of the United NationsAssistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The present report is the second submittedpursuant to that resolution.2. The report provides an update on United Nations activities in Iraq since thelast report (S/2007/608), dated 15 October 2007, with a continued focus on initialsteps taken to implement resolution 1770 (2007). It presents a summary of keypolitical developments during the period under review, including activitiespertaining to the implementation of article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution, as well asregional and international events concerning Iraq. The report provides an update onthe activities of my Special Representative for Iraq and on operational and securitymatters. II. Summary of key political and security developments in Iraq 3. The Government of Iraq has continued its efforts to move forward on issuesrelated to national security and the administration of Government. However,progress has been slow for a variety of reasons, including the refusal of ministersbelonging to the Tawafoq bloc to resume their places in the Cabinet. This has lead toan ongoing impasse, as well as the dismissal of ministers who did not perform theirduties.4. While the routine business of the Council of Representatives proceededsatisfactorily, progress has remained slow on key substantive proposals, notably thedraft hydrocarbon package. Similarly, progress on the draft Justice andAccountability Law remains slow, although parliamentary debate on it appears tohave narrowed to disagreements on the constitutionality of specific provisions,including the proposed dissolution of the Supreme National Commission forDebaathification and the prosecution of the Baath Party as a collective body. Thedraft law was presented to Parliament on 26 November and a second reading took place on 6 December. With respect to the draft Law on Governorates not organized  S/2008/19 08-20659 2 into a region, the Regions Committee is exploring steps to expedite the third readingof the legislation. As a result, the draft could be brought to a vote in early January.5. On 24 December President Jalal Talabani, Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemiand Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani signed a memorandum of understandingbetween the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Iraqi Islamic Party and the KurdistanDemocratic Party. President Talabani and Vice-President Al-Hashemi have declaredthat the memorandum of understanding was intended to activate previousagreements, support the political process and encourage the formation of a nationalunity Government and national reconciliation.6. On 25 November, Prime Minister Nuri Kamel al-Maliki and United StatesPresident George W. Bush signed a Declaration of Principles for a Long-TermRelationship of Cooperation and Friendship between the Republic of Iraq and theUnited States of America. The Prime Minister had previously indicated that theGovernment expected that the Security Council would be able to handle thesituation in Iraq without action under Chapter VII of the Charter of the UnitedNations. The joint declaration is to be followed by negotiations between the twoGovernments on their entire bilateral relationship, including the scale anddeployment of the multinational force in Iraq, which are expected to be concludedby 31 July 2008.7. Clashes between competing Shiite militias loyal to the Supreme Iraqi IslamicCouncil and the Sadrist Trend occurred in Diwaniyah in October, Amarah inNovember and Basra throughout the last quarter. The serious nature of these clashestriggered some reconciliation efforts. On 6 October, the leader of the Council, AbdulAziz al-Hakim, and Moqtada al-Sadr signed an agreement to prevent furtherviolence between their supporters and on 4 November established a joint committeeto implement it. Moqtada al-Sadr continues to reaffirm the August suspension of activities by the Mahdi Army for a period of six months.8. On 24 November, a group of Sadrist activists announced the formation of anew group, the Iraq National Gathering, to promote tolerance and dialogue withother groups. Meanwhile, cleric-led initiatives to reduce tensions between Sunnisand Shiites continued. On 27 November, some 200 Islamic scholars participated inthe first national forum under the auspices of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.9. “Awakening Councils”, or concerned local citizen units continued to beestablished. As key components of current strategy of the multinational force, theseunits have been created as a proxy civil defence corps in, to date, predominantlySunni areas. In Anbar, the Awakening Council was active in combating Al-Qaidaviolence and appeared to enjoy broad support. The multinational force providesfunding, training and organizational support to those units. The Iraqi Government isconsidering absorbing a fraction of the existing 77,000 members of the concernedlocal citizen units into the police and army and is planning to establish vocationaltraining centres for others in order to integrate them into the labour market.10. This process is likely to be a prolonged one. The Government still has seriouslong-term concerns about the implications of armed, territorial Sunni tribal forcesoperating in a framework outside its control. Senior leaders from the governingcoalition were involved in several outreach initiatives aimed at reducing tensionbetween the Awakening Councils and the Government.    S/2008/19   3 08-20659 11. Overall violence across Iraq declined steadily throughout the period. Fromaverages of 200 incidents a day in July and August, the level of hostile activityacross the nation declined to approximately 90 a day in September, October andNovember. The deployment of additional multinational force troops earlier in theyear is one of the reasons for the reduction in overall violence. Others include theceasefire declared by Moqtada al-Sadr, the role of the Awakening Councils andincreased cooperation between the Government and some regional neighbours onsecurity-related issues.12. The Mahdi Army ceasefire has been instrumental in reducing the level of violence in Baghdad. Specific types of violence associated with this militia havenoticeably declined. Moqtada al-Sadr has reinforced his ceasefire order twice in thelast quarter. However, breakaway militia factions continue to target militarypersonnel, from both the multinational force and Iraqi Security Forces, aroundBaghdad, irrespective of Al-Sadr’s ceasefire instruction.13. Following the withdrawal of British forces from the city of Basra, BasraProvince was transferred to provincial Iraqi control on 16 December. However, theground situation in Basra is still dominated by rivalry among key parties, mainlygroups affiliated with Sadrists, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and Fadhila. TheGovernor of Basra has survived a number of attacks. The newly appointed policecommander, sent by the Prime Minister to contain local violence, has also reportedlysurvived several attempts on his life. Attacks against women in Basra increased in2007 compared with previous years. The Governorate Council and commandelements of the police are in early stages of establishing an effective workingrelationship. There are indications that the dominant parties and tribal groups in theProvince may be prepared to negotiate control of the security environment.14. On 3 December, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a leader of the self-declared IslamicState of Iraq (presumably affiliated with Al-Qaida in Iraq), declared a renewedcampaign against military forces and anyone found cooperating with them. In theensuing days, there was a spike in vehicle-borne and other improvised explosivedevice attacks against the multinational force and assassination attempts against keyGovernment and leadership figures, which may be associated with this declaration.15. Recent joint successes of the Iraqi Security Forces, the multinational force andtribal forces in Diyala are pushing extremist elements beyond Kirkuk and Mosul andtowards areas under Kurdistan regional government control. Regional developments pertaining to Iraq 16. On 23 October, the Interior Ministers of neighbouring States of Iraq met inKuwait for their fourth annual meeting. They agreed broadly on helping to restorestability and security in Iraq, in accordance with previous commitments, and on aregular reporting mechanism. In the wake of the meeting, Saudi Arabia indicatedthat it was prepared to engage Iraq on the repatriation of Saudi nationals held asterror suspects and to consider reopening additional crossing points along its borderwith Iraq.17. Tensions along the border of Iraq and Turkey reached a new level after17 October, when the Turkish Parliament authorized a cross-border operationagainst Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist hideouts in northern Iraq for up toone year. The first targeted strike occurred in December following a gradual  S/2008/19 08-20659 4 reduction in tension. During the crisis, the leadership of Turkey repeatedly statedthat a major incursion was not imminent. Vice-President Al-Hashemi travelled toTurkey, reciprocating a visit from the Turkish Foreign Minister to Baghdad. A high-level Iraqi political and security delegation, including senior officials from theKurdistan regional government, followed on 25 October and proposed severalmeasures for improving border control. At a conference in Istanbul in November,Prime Minister Al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced furthermeasures against PKK while calling for political dialogue to resolve the issue. Threeoffices of a Kurdish party sympathetic to PKK were subsequently closed, in Arbil,Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah. I have expressed concern about PKK elements carryingout terrorist attacks in Turkey from northern Iraq. I have also publicly voiced myconcern about repeated Turkish air strikes into northern Iraq, in view of mediareports of possible civilian casualties. I once again appeal to the Governments of Iraq and Turkey to work together to prevent these kinds of attacks from continuing.18. On 2 and 3 November I attended the second expanded meeting of foreignministers of neighbouring States of Iraq in Istanbul. Participants included Egypt,Bahrain, the five permanent Members of the Security Council, the members of theGroup of Eight, the European Union, the League of Arab States and theOrganization of the Islamic Conference. Participants discussed the internal stabilityand border security of Iraq and a continuous expanded neighbours’ cooperationprocess. They endorsed an ad hoc Baghdad-based support mechanism assisted bythe United Nations. The meeting reaffirmed the functions of the three workinggroups established at the first expanded neighbour’s conference, held in Sharmel-Sheikh, Egypt. Kuwait offered to host the next expanded neighbours’ ministerialmeeting.19. Cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republiccontinued, with attempts to improve economic and security cooperation through arange of new initiatives. On 9 November, nine Iranian nationals were released fromUnited States (multinational force) custody. Three days earlier, the Islamic Republicof Iran opened a consulate in Arbil. In mid-November, Iraqi Government officialsconfirmed that work had started on a major underwater oil pipeline between Basraand Abadan (Islamic Republic of Iran). On 10 November, the Syrian Arab Republicpermitted foreign diplomats to visit one part of its border with Iraq to observeimproved control and security measures.20. Both the Syrian Arab Republic and Jordan will begin to require visas for Iraqicitizens. In mid-October, the Syrian Arab Republic implemented the decision,initially announced on 10 September, and allowed Iraqi citizens meeting specificcriteria to obtain visas at the border. Jordan has also announced the introduction of avisa regime for Iraqi arrivals, which is expected to be in place shortly. In mid-November, a study commissioned by the Government of Jordan on Iraqi refugeesliving in Jordan and released by the Norwegian Research Institute estimated thatbetween 450,000 and 500,000 Iraqis were living in Jordan, a figure lower thanpreviously estimated.21. At the end of November, Iraq confirmed it was transferring funds to the SyrianArab Republic and Jordan to compensate them for their assistance to Iraqi refugees.The Government of Iraq allocated $15 million for the Syrian Arab Republic, $8million for Jordan and $2 million for Lebanon, as first pledged at a conference heldby the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in


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