Discussing Aid and Reconstruction in Post-Saddam Iraq | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 26.03.2003
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Discussing Aid and Reconstruction in Post-Saddam Iraq

As the United Nations negotiates an aid and reconstruction resolution in the coming days, Europe is determined to get the U.N. heavily involved in post-Saddam Iraq, and the U.S. out as quickly as possible.


The reconstruction of Baghdad and the rest of Iraq will be a massive undertaking.

As coalition forces meet with continued fierce resistance in the Iraqi desert, United Nations security council members are beginning discreet negotiations on an aid and reconstruction resolution on post-Saddam Iraq.

At stake is a war-ravaged nation and the region's post-war stability. Security Council members France, Russia, Germany and Syria, all heavily anti-war, don't want the United States to control the post-war administration in Iraq, even if only for a short period. Security council members will meet Wednesday evening on a request from the Arab League.

U.S. officials have said in recent days that they agree that the United Nations must back any sort of post-war regime in Baghdad. They maintain they want to stay in Iraq only as long as it takes to stabilize the country.

Blair stresses importance on U.N. in post-war Iraq

In part to heal the rift, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday at Camp David.

"It is common ground between us that the United Nations has got to be involved in post-conflict Iraq," Blair told a London news conference on the eve of his departure. "I can assure you that it is our desire to ensure that the U.N. are centrally involved."

Some think that a Bush agreement on U.N. involvement could close over some of the rifts opened in the U.N. and Europe by the coalition forces' invasion of Iraq. One thing is for sure, says transatlantic analyst Steven Everts at the Centre for European Reform in London: "Without that, it's not going to happen. You will see a repetition and exacerbation of the disputes."

"The way the reconstruction is going to be handled will be totally dependent on what Blair can get out of Bush in terms of the U.N. mandate and role," Everts told DW-WORLD. "If Bush thinks the war is going great than he will resist Blair's pressure to put the U.N. in a political role in Iraq."

Blair's next and final stop in the U.S. on Thursday will be Kofi Annan's office at the United Nations. Agreement on a resolution in the New York City-based body will be a massive undertaking, if current negotiations on the resumption of the oil-for-food program are any indication.

Oil-for-food aid on the negotiating block

The program, which allows Iraq to purchase humanitarian aid using its oil revenues, was temporarily suspended with the onset of the war, a week ago. U.N. security council members are working on a resolution that would have the U.N. work only temporarily with the United States following the end of the war.

France, Russia, China and Syria, all staunch opponents of the war, are wary of fashioning a resolution that would have the U.N. fully cooperate with the U.S. and Great Britain, and thus give indirect support to the coalition invasion of Iraq.

Germany, which currently heads the planning committee responsible for reconstruction, is optimistic an agreement can be reached as early as Wednesday.

"We are trying to find a solution that would reflect a compromise to which everybody has to contribute because there are very differing interests involved," German U.N. ambassador Gunter Pleuger told the Associated Press.

Aid, fast

In the meantime, European governments are lining up with pledges of immediate humanitarian aid. The German government has promised 50 million euro ($53.4 million) in immediate aid to relieve the immense humanitarian crisis currently facing Iraqis. Chancellor Gerhard Schröder last Friday also signed onto a pledge by the European Commission to provide 100 million euro in aid.

Thousands of Iraqis are going hungry and suffering from dehydration as U.S. and British troops battle with guerrilla soldiers in the southern cities of Basra and Umm Qasr. The suspension of the oil-for food program, on which 16 million of the 25 million Iraqis are dependent has added to the humanitarian crisis brought on by war. Military officials said Wednesday that the first seven-truck food convoy from Kuwait had arrived at Umm Qasr and that ships would be allowed in shortly. The U.S. Navy has been working to clear Iraq's only deep-water port of mines.

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