The five permanent members of the UN Security Council decide today whether or not to approve the third proposal placed before the organism by the USA, an act which appears to be the symbolic presentation of the final version of a draft which has already gained the secret nod of all those involved in the process.
Russia has already made it clear that Moscow is satisfied that many of the initial objections over wording have been changed to present a version more in line with what was favoured by the Russian Foreign Office.
In London, a spokesperson for Number 10 Downing Street declared that it is hoped that this proposal will be approved, not as an end but as “the beginning of the end”. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has pointed out that Saddam Hussein “continues to violate the obligations that have been imposed on him by previous UN resolutions”.
Meanwhile Jacques Chirac stated on his visit to Rome that “The sooner the resolution is adopted, the better” because this is a last chance for Iraq and what France has called for all along is a peaceful solution to the crisis. Tang Jianxuan, the Chinese Foreign Minister, has also called for a political solution.
The new proposal has dropped any mention of military intervention, referring instead to “serious consequences”, leaving it open as to whether these would be the result of a further Security Council meeting or imposed unilaterally by the USA. The USA has also dropped its demands for an automatic regime change in Baghdad. The new proposal includes the measure to inspect any structure which the UNMOVIC team feel they need to visit, including presidential palaces and gives the team the authority to remove from Iraq any personnel they wish to question, along with their families.
Naturally, Baghdad has reacted to these conditions. The newspaper Babel, directed by Ouday Hussein, the older son of President Saddam Hussein, called the American plan “full of hatred and aggressiveness. It tells us what we must do, what we have to give and even then threatens to use force”. The article appeals to France and Russia to block the proposal, because “its main aim is to ignore our efforts and cooperation and our suffering over the last eleven years”.
The fact that the draft has been changed three times by the USA means that a lot of negotiations have been going on in the sidelines. Reading between the lines, enough time has been spent for all parties involved to feel that diplomacy has won the day over the military option blatantly exposed by an immature US diplomatic machine, which has learnt through the strong position taken by Moscow and Paris that the proper forum for debate is the UNO on a multilateral, diplomatic basis.
Moscow has scored many points proving that the Russian Federation today is a democratic, responsible player in the world community, that Moscow will not accept blatant and barefaced arrogance by whoever it may be, that its policy is coherent and correct but at the same time, all diplomatic channels are left open to be properly used and finally, Baghdad has been given an escape route to solve the crisis.
Nobody loses face. It is a win-win situation, thanks largely to the Russian Federation.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz sharply commented on the remarks from the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany