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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

11 April 2005

World Must Support Iraq's Political Transition, U.N. Envoy Says

Security Council gets reports on Iraqi security, political progress

Terrorists and insurgents remain determined to try to thwart Iraq's progress toward peace and democracy, U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson told the U.N. Security Council April 11.

"Iraq remains a very difficult security environment," Patterson said in an oral report to the council on behalf of the Multinational Force. Terrorists and insurgents continue a brutal campaign of attacks and intimidation against Iraqi leaders and citizens as well as aid workers from many countries and the Multinational Force.

The U.S. ambassador also reported that Georgian troops have taken over providing security for the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) in Baghdad and that by mid-year, Romanian troops will be safeguarding U.N. officials.

In addition, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden have pledged over $15 million toward funding the security contingent for UNAMI, she said.

In his presentation to the Security Council, U.N. special envoy Ashraf Qazi said that "almost without exception" Iraqi officials and all sectors of society want the United Nations to assume greater responsibilities and greater visibility in Iraq, but he added, "[A]n improvement in the overall security environment is ... an essential prerequisite for an expansion of the U.N.'s activities in Iraq."

Iraq's challenges "are also the challenges of the international community," Qazi said. He said that the country's new transitional institutions need continued and active support from the United Nations, the region, and the international community at large both in the areas of political and economic reconstruction.

"Now is the time for us to stand together with Iraq's new authorities and give them a chance to succeed in the eyes of their people," the U.N. envoy said.

Patterson also said that the Multination Force "will continue to cooperate closely with the government of Iraq, and train and fight alongside Iraqi Security Forces, while permanently turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi Security Forces as the local situation allows."

Following is the text of Patterson's remarks:

(begin text)

April 11, 2005

Statement by Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Acting U.S. Representative to the United Nations, on the Situation in Iraq Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1546, in the Security Council, April 11, 2005

Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, on behalf of the Multinational Force, I am pleased to report to the Security Council on the efforts and progress of the Multinational Force in fulfilling its mandate.

The situation in Iraq today is very different from that on which we reported in December 2004. On January 30 we witnessed the bravery, courage and resolve of the Iraqi people as they demonstrated their commitment to democracy. The votes of approximately sixty percent of eligible Iraqis proved that they would not be intimidated from cooperating with the Iraqi government and participating in a peaceful political process.

On election day, roughly 130,000 Iraqi security personnel were on duty; these forces secured all 5,200 polling places with multiple rings of security, protected voters and polling centers from over 100 attacks, and reportedly detained more than 200 suspected insurgents. Not a single polling site was penetrated that day. The performance of the Iraqi Security Forces demonstrates growing capability and testifies to the successful, continuing cooperation between the Iraqi Government and the Multinational Force.

The Multinational Force comprises 27 countries, in addition to the United States, and has more than 130,000 personnel. The MNF coordinates closely with the Iraqi government at the local and national levels to employ more effective tactics to defeat the insurgents and prevent their attacks. The U.S. Embassy and Multinational Force leadership continue to attend, at the Iraqi government's invitation, Iraq's Ministerial Committee on National Security, which sets the broad framework for Iraqi security policy, consistent with resolution 1546,

Iraq remains a very difficult security environment. Terrorists and insurgents remain determined to try to thwart Iraq's progress towards peace and democracy. They continue a brutal campaign of attacks and intimidation against Iraqi leaders and citizens, Iraqi security forces, private citizens and aid workers from many countries, and the Multinational Force. Their disregard for innocent life and their willingness to commit unspeakable horror, including the videotaped execution of hostages, has not intimidated the Iraqi people. Iraqis continue to volunteer in large numbers to serve their country in the Iraqi security forces.

According to the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq, over 150,000 security forces within the Ministries of Interior and Defense have been equipped and trained. Some 85,000 Interior Ministry troops include regular police; members of special police commando, public order and mechanized battalions; border guard units; and dignitary-protection elements. Defense Ministry forces number 65,000 and include troops from the regular Iraqi army – which now includes both the intervention force and the National Guard – and the air force, navy and special operations.

Building the Iraqi Security Force remains a “work in progress"; and a top priority. The Multinational Security Transition Command and the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense continue to work closely together to recruit, train and equip Iraq's security forces. We have prepared a more detailed information sheet (attached) that is being distributed now; it demonstrates some of progress the Iraqi security forces have made. But more time and continued MNF support is needed before the Iraqi security forces reach full operational capacity.

In addition to training Iraqi Security Forces, the Multinational Force continues to conduct the full spectrum of military operations in order “to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq."; The Multinational Force continues to work arduously to conduct traditional security and stability operations, as well as recover and destroy munitions and land mines, provide air support, conduct maritime interception operations, and protect multinational reconstruction efforts. What has changed since the last report is the increasing use of Iraqi Security Forces for these tasks, supported by the Multinational Force as required. This trend will continue and increase in the near term as the Iraqi Security Forces become more and more capable.

Military forces and civil affairs personnel – in coordination with the Iraqi government, international donors, and international and national NGOs – also work to provide civil, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance throughout Iraq. Projects include reconstruction and renovation of hospitals, pharmaceutical stores, primary and literary schools; repair of roads, water and sewage treatment, power supply systems, and public parks; provision of medical care; and water purification.

The Multinational Force continues to disburse funds to build and improve infrastructure, and provide for the welfare of the citizens and support education. The Multinational Force has also provided local security forces with communication, investigation and facility equipment, as well as donated equipment and medicine to Iraqi health centers.

The United Nations has played an important role thus far in Iraq's political transition process, particularly in the important assistance provided to the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq. I thank the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Ashraf Qazi for his presentation of the Secretary General's report to the Council today. Under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, Ambassador Qazi and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, as requested by the Government of Iraq, shall play a leading role to “promote national dialogue and consensus-building on the drafting of a national constitution by the people of Iraq."; The UN has said it would play such a role and help coordinate other international technical assistance. We urge the UN to prepare in advance to do so, given its broad expertise and experience with constitutional assistance.

We understand that security for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq is a necessary condition for the UN to fulfill its mandate. Since August 2004, U.S. troop contingents have performed this function. More recently however, consistent with Resolution 1546, a distinct entity under the unified command of the Multinational Force assumed the distinct mission of providing security for the United Nations presence in Iraq. I am very pleased to report to the Council that Georgian troops have assumed this mission in Baghdad from the United States. In addition, Romanian troops are currently deployed in Basra and are prepared to provide security for UN officials upon their arrival this summer. I would also like to acknowledge the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden – who combined have pledged over $15 million towards funding for this distinct entity. As the UN expands its activities in Iraq, its security needs will increase; we encourage countries to provide additional assistance to the protection force, either through the provision of funds or troops. This protection force will be a necessary precondition for an expanded UN presence

I welcome the deployment of UN Liaison Detachment Teams to Basra and Erbil and look forward to deployment of additional, substantive staff. We would like to see the UN expand implementation of its responsibilities for economic and humanitarian reconstruction assistance, and a robust UN presence in Basra and Erbil would serve that purpose. In addition, we expect offices in Basra and Erbil will be necessary to support the Iraqis in the next phase of the political transition.

January 30 elections opened a new chapter in Iraqi history. These elections were an essential step in the Iraqi people's path towards stability and democratic self-governance. Now begins the process of drafting and ratifying a constitution that will be the basis of a fully democratic Iraq. It is important that all Iraqis have the opportunity to participate in this process; transparency and broad-based participation in the drafting of Iraq's new constitution will be critical to developing a stable and thriving democracy. We are encouraged by statements from a variety of Iraq's political leaders and from the new Iraqi government leadership indicating their commitment to ensuring an inclusive approach to the drafting of the constitution and an Iraqi Transitional Government that represents the interests of all Iraqis.

While there remain those who seek to undo the progress Iraq has made over the past two years and undermine the democratically elected government, the majority of Iraq's citizens have demonstrated that they support the political process and believe that justice should be achieved by the rule of law. The Multinational Force, in support of these goals, will continue to cooperate closely with the Government of Iraq, and train and fight alongside Iraqi Security Forces, while permanently turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi Security Forces as the local situation allows. We look forward to working closely with the newly elected government of Iraq to ensure effective support for stabilization, reconstruction and continued democratic development in Iraq.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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