Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush Pitches Handover Plan to UN ; Resolution Presented to the Security Council Would Pave the Way Iraqi Rule

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bush Pitches Handover Plan to UN ; Resolution Presented to the Security Council Would Pave the Way Iraqi Rule

Article excerpt

The United States and Britain face little mystery over the prospects of the Iraq resolution they began circulating in the United Nations Security Council Monday.

The resolution, ending the coalition occupation by specifying what US officials say will be "full sovereignty" for Iraq, is expected to win broad support even among countries that opposed the war.

The resolution calls for "governing authority" to be placed in the hands of a yet-to-be-named interim government. It also calls for a multinational force, in the country with Iraqi consent, to maintain security. The mandate of the multinational force would be for an initial 12 months, unless Iraq's transitional government sought an earlier review.

Council members gave the text good marks, with some saying it opens the ensuing discussion on a positive note.

What remains in question is whether the resolution can achieve the two goals set out by its sponsors: a return by the UN to a much deeper role in Iraq, and a commitment from more countries to take part in the country's postoccupation path, especially by sending in security forces.

The resolution debate takes place against a backdrop of high- anxiety negotiations in Iraq to name an interim government by the end of May. UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is working with White House envoy Robert Blackwill in Baghdad to name the top members of the new government - a prime minister, a mostly ceremonial president and two vice-presidents, and the heads of four key ministries including defense and foreign affairs - within the next few days.

Balancing powerful ethnic groups

The process is coming down to a delicate balancing act among Iraq's key religious and ethnic groups: the majority Shiites, the long-ruling but minority Sunnis, and the Kurds, who have enjoyed autonomy for more than a decade.

A successful resolution bestowing international recognition on an Iraq with sovereignty restored is one condition set by potential contributors to a multinational security force, but it is not the only one.

Pakistan's ambassador to the US, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, says a resolution cementing the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people is only the first step. …

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