UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com)–Some nations sitting on the Security Council warn a unanimous vote for a humanitarian program for food and medicine, paid for by Iraq but controlled by the secretary-general, should not be construed as accepting U.S. and United Kingdom attacks and occupation of the Arab nation.
There are also accusations that the U.S. has mounted a campaign to keep a peace resolution from coming before the UN Security Council.
“It should be understood that Syria would attempt to continue our efforts to stop the invasion forces,” Fayssal Mekdad, the Syrian delegation’s second in command, told the Security Council. Syria was among nations who approved continuation of the UN Food for Oil Program in late March. The program spends portions of Iraq’s oil revenue on non-military assistance for her people.
Syria is not, however, for current military action in the region.
In Damascus, the Syrian capital, the cabinet called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution to halt aggression against Iraq. While rumors in the halls of the United Nations circulated that a draft resolution was being prepared by Syria, the BBC UN desk circulated a story that the Syrian draft to halt the war would be vetoed if it came up for a vote.
“The United States is using fear and intimidation against Security Council members,” said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies.
“Washington’s attempt to overcome stiff opposition on the Security Council uses both carrot and stick, by saying that reconsideration of economic and military deals as well as prospects for oil and trade in post-war Iraq are on the table,” added the Global Policy Forum, a New York-based think tank that monitors global policy matters at the UN.
Syrian delegates speaking on condition of anonymity admitted to The Final Call that the nine votes needed to pass a resolution through the 15-member council had yet to surface.
The United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, Guinea, Cameroon, Angola, Germany, Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Spain and Syria are currently seated on the Security Council.
The degree of pressure the U.S. has used against past opponents in the Security Council is documented in the autobiography of former Secretary of State James Baker III. In his book, “The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War & Peace, 1989-1992,” Mr. Baker talks about his actions in the days before Resolution 678 was adopted by the council. The resolution authorized action by “all necessary means,” and was adopted November 29, 1990–before the launch of the first Gulf War.
“I left Washington on Nov. 3, 1990–in the next three weeks I spent 18 days traveling to countries on three continents. I met personally with all of my Security Council counterparts in an intricate process of cajoling, extricating, threatening, and occasionally buying votes. Such are the politics of diplomacy.”
The Global Policy Forum said the U.S. has embarked on a well-orchestrated program to stop any resolution against the war in Iraq from coming to the Security Council. It includes a “pre-emptive letter writing attack” to all nations that “demands” member states avoid “calls for an emergency session of the General Assembly” and anti-war Resolution 377, United For Peace.
Ms. Bennis made U.S. actions public by disclosing that South Africa received a worrisome letter from the State Department. If South Africa attended a “United for Peace” meeting called by the General Assembly, the Bush administration would see it as a move against the U.S., the letter said, according to Ms. Bennis. South African delegates at the UN would not say if such a letter existed.
But the Chilean newspaper La Tercera reports that Chile’s Washington embassy received a letter from the U.S., technically called a “non-paper.” The non-paper “demands” Chile focus on real challenges and avoid proactive steps within the Security Council, such as war-condemning resolutions or calls for an emergency session of the General Assembly, said La Tercera.
La Tercera said the U.S. ambassador to Chile, William R. Brownfield, confirmed the letter was sent, saying it was in the hopes of “avoiding more diplomatic problems.” He also told La Tercera the letter was sent to all countries in the world.
In Barbados, diplomatic sources said the U.S. State Department sent an urgent note to regional governments stressing the U.S. would see the region’s participation in a General Assembly special session as “inimical to its national interests.”
In Jamaica, foreign ministry officials confirmed that the U.S. Embassy in Kingston had verbally passed on a message from Washington that the Bush administration would prefer that Jamaica stay away if the General Assembly is called into session.
“My understanding is that we were contacted by the U.S. Embassy asking us to refrain from giving support in relationship to what they understand to be a General Assembly meeting,” Junior Foreign Minister Delano Franklyn told the Jamaica Observer.
UN observers say there is hope that Mexico, which takes over as rotating president of the Security Council for the month of April, may be able to get a draft resolution on the floor at least for debate.
Aldofo Aguilar Zinser, Mexico’s UN ambassador, told reporters he sees Mexico’s role as being a facilitator to restore “multilateralism” to the world body.
“We must find a way to restore the UN in the debate on Iraq, and to stop the war,” Mr. Zinser said.
Observers say the U.S. has tried to get Mr. Zinser fired. However, a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from the foreign ministry of Mexico stated that Mr. Zinser would be staying on. He has also angered western powers on the council by suggesting that the power of the veto must be reversed.
It should be noted that the call for a General Assembly special session has not only come from Arab and African nations. A leader of the Democrats in the Australian Parliament, Senator Andrew Bartlett, called on his government to support the “United for Peace” resolution. “The assembly could mandate that the inspection regime be permitted to complete its inspections. An overwhelming vote against war by the nations would increase pressure on the U.S., UK and Australia to reconsider its war march,” Senator Bartlett said.