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Protesters At UN Taunt New Iraq Diplomats

by Thalif Deen

Delegation From Postwar Iraq Grilled By UN Press
(IPS) UNITED NATIONS -- Three members of the recently U.S.-appointed 25-member Iraqi Governing Council participated in a meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday, provoking a brief demonstration by an anti-war group.

Two members of the International Occupation Watch Center (IOWC) shouted at the Iraqi delegates, accusing them of representing an "illegal Council hand-picked by the United States."

Gael Murphy, one of the protesters who was dragged from the visitor's gallery by UN security guards, dismissed the Governing Council and its three-member delegation as frauds.

"The United Nations should not have endorsed the Governing Council," Murphy told IPS. "This is another example of the continued collusion of the United Nations with the United States."

She was also critical of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who, in his address to the Security Council Tuesday, described the Governing Council as "an important first step towards the full restoration of Iraqi sovereignty."

In welcoming the Iraqi delegates, Annan told the Security Council: "Our collective goal remains an early end to the military occupation through the formation of an internationally recognized, representative government."

It is vital, he argued, that the Iraqi people should be able to see a clear timetable with a specific sequence of events leading to the full restoration of sovereignty as soon as possible.

In contrast, Murphy said the Governing Council, whose members many have described as "American puppets," was the creation of the United States and did not represent the will of the 27 million Iraqis.

"Moreover," she said, "How can the United Nations give legitimacy to a Governing Council, three of whose members are being investigated by Interpol, the international anticrime agency?"

Murphy also said that two other members of the Governing Council are known to have their own private militias in Baghdad.

"The credibility of the United Nations has been undermined," she said.

The three-member delegation to the Security Council included Adnan Pachachi, a former foreign minister, Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the London-based Iraqi National Congress, and Aquila al-Hashimi, a diplomat who served in the foreign ministry under the Saddam Hussein regime.

Murphy said that it was common knowledge that Chalabi was indicted for embezzlement in Jordan. "If this is an indication of democracy -- as preached by the United States -- Iraq is in deep trouble."

The International Occupation Watch Center -- which is supported by United for Peace and Justice, a major U.S. anti-war coalition with over 600 member groups -- opened an office in Baghdad about two weeks ago.

Medea Benjamin, one of the other protesters at the Security Council meeting Tuesday, said the Center will enable ordinary Iraqis to inform people around the world about conditions under U.S. military occupation. "Americans have no idea of the total chaos in Iraq," she said.

"Not only are there dozens of attacks on U.S. soldiers every single day, but regular Iraqis are suffering with no electricity in 120-degree heat, and have no protection from thieves and other criminals, who are running rampant," said Benjamin who represents the San Francisco-based anti-war group Global Exchange which backs the International Occupation Watch Center.

"In practical terms," Annan said, "this means that the establishment of the Governing Council must be followed by a constitutional process run by and for Iraqis."

The United Nations, he added, will continue to play an active role in facilitating and supporting the political process, working together with the Governing Council, and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which is in charge of the civil administration of post-war Iraq.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, Annan's Special Representative in Iraq, told the Security Council that he had spent the past few weeks traveling the country and meeting with a wide array of Iraqis: politicians, civil society leaders, lawyers, spiritual leaders, doctors, journalists, artists, and human rights activists.

"They want to see themselves back at the helm of their country. They also want to see the arrival of security and of the rule of law."

Equally, he said, Iraqis want to see the restoration of basic services: reliable electricity, clean water, schools up and running, and functioning of hospitals.

"These are the traumas, the anxieties and the aspirations and frustrations of the Iraqi people with which we all must empathize and to which we must respond if we are to succeed in this endeavour," he added.

Endorsing the U.S.-created institution, Vieira de Mello said that the formation of Iraq's Governing Council "was a significant step towards that goal."

The Council, he said, will soon be appointing Iraqi interim ministers and -- more importantly -- designating Iraqi representation at international bodies such as the United Nations.

The Iraqi Mission to the United Nations has remained headless since the outbreak of the war in March. The former Iraqi envoy, Mohammed Al-Douri, packed up his bags and left New York in early April.

Pachachi, who led the three-member Iraqi delegation, told delegates that the Governing Council had been formed as an embodiment of the national free will to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and achieve a better future for Iraq. He insisted that the Council represented "the full spectrum of Iraqi society."

Among the goals of the Council, he said, was the adoption of a constitution and free elections open to all.

The proposed new Iraqi constitution, he said, would establish a federal political system, which would consolidate the rule of law in an independent judicial system, and would subject the armed forces to elected representation.

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Albion Monitor July 24, 2003 (

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