Mexico Supports Compromise Un Resolution on Iraq, Rejects Unilateralism of Bush Administration

Article excerpt

Mexican President Vicente Fox's differences with the administration of US President George W. Bush regarding the US intention to bring about "regime change" in Iraq has developed into an unusual clash over foreign policy between the two governments.

Mexico joined permanent UN Security Council members France, Russia, and China in opposing a US-sponsored draft UN resolution against Iraq. The US-sponsored resolution, which was also backed by Great Britain, would have opened the way for a US-led military offensive against Iraq in the event that Iraq did not comply with UN arms inspections.

France, Russia, China, and Mexico support a compromise resolution that, according to Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castaneda, would prevent war at least through the first three months of next year.

"This accord will at least permit a lessening of tensions that now exist and will allow us to enter the first three months of the coming year in conditions of peace in the Middle East, in conditions that provide one last opportunity for diplomacy," Castaneda said. He said that passage of the compromise UN proposal is "imminent."

Security Council revises US-sponsored resolution

France, Russia, and China complained about "hidden triggers" in the wording of the US-sponsored resolution that would have allowed Washington to launch a military strike, overthrow Saddam, and argue afterwards that it had UN authorization.

The compromise proposal would call for new arms inspections in Iraq but drop US proposals to have armed guards accompany inspection teams. The compromise proposal would also stipulate that no citizens of the five permanent-member countries of the Security Council would be part of the inspection teams.

In the event that Iraq does not comply with arms inspections or is accused of noncompliance, the compromise proposal would call for a second phase in which the UN Security Council would decide on the measures necessary to assure compliance. Castaneda stressed that the UN Security Council "must be the one to determine what will happen if weapons of mass destruction are found or if Iraq blocks the work of the inspectors." Castaneda also stressed that the compromise proposal did not mention the possibility of the use of force against the Baghdad regime.

Although the US has offered to wait until UN arms inspectors report any possible violations and to discuss them with the council before launching any military strike, France has insisted that the Security Council must decide whether a violation exists.

Castaneda says the changes proposed for the resolution represent a victory for the UN and for countries that had not been happy with the original wording of the resolution drafted by the US and Britain. A report in the Mexican weekly Proceso corroborated this point, calling the compromise "a triumph for the international community" in the face of the "unilateralism that Bush openly professes."

In a poll by the Mexican daily Reforma on Oct. 26, 56% of Mexicans who responded said that the Fox administration should adopt a position of neutrality in the face of a possible armed conflict between the US and Iraq, while 29% said that Mexico should reject any bellicose action and only 12% favored a US offensive against Iraq.

Senators from Mexico's three largest political parties said they favor a resolution that rules out a unilateral US attack against Iraq. "Mexico...must ensure that the proposal that is presented conforms with international law," said Sen. Fernando Margain, a member of Fox's center-right Partido Accion Nacional (PAN). This position was also supported by Sens. Silvia Hernandez and Dulce Maria Sauri of the former governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and Armando Chavarria of the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD) in interviews with the Mexico City daily newspaper Reforma.

Despite Castaneda's expressions of confidence that the revised UN resolution would prevail, it was far from clear that the Bush administration would choose to interpret any such resolution in the manner that France, Russia, China, and Mexico intend. …