U.S. Seeks U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Iraq
U.S. Seeks U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Iraq, Powell Says
Multinational force would be under unified U.S. command
The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council for a two-part resolution creating a multinational peacekeeping force for Iraq, under a unified U.S. command, and inviting the Iraqi Governing Council to submit "a plan, a program and a timetable" for its political evolution, Secretary of State Colin Powell said September 3.
At a State Department briefing, Powell said, "I have already begun discussing this resolution with my colleagues on the [U.N.] Security Council in [their] capitals." He said he has spoken with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as well as foreign ministers Igor Ivanov of Russia, Joschka Fischer of Germany, Dominique de Villepin of France and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
"The consultations will be based on a draft resolution that we will be providing to Security Council members today [September 3] and through tomorrow," Powell said. Assisting Powell in the consultations will be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte.
Powell said the Iraqi Governing Council would be invited to submit a timetable for the nation's political evolution through the writing of a constitution, creation of institutions of government, and the conduct of free elections.
"And at that point, after free elections, you have the conditions for sovereignty so that they can assume sovereignty over their own country once again," Powell said. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the coalition military forces would become part of a partnership with the new Iraqi government led by Iraqis, he said.
"Many people have asked us for a political horizon, and this resolution is a way of creating such a political horizon and demonstrating how we would get to that horizon," he said.
Powell said the initial response to the draft resolution has been positive, but added that the Security Council members have not yet had a chance to study the resolution in depth and make their own judgments.
"There are other elements in the draft resolution having to do with an expanded role for the U.N. so they can perform the vital role that the president always expected them to do in such areas as helping with reconstruction efforts, in generating more funds for reconstruction, assisting in the creation of an electoral system and electoral process," Powell said.
Powell said the U.S. Central Command would remain in charge of the unified command, but the U.S. commander would report to the U.N. Security Council on a regular basis, and under the resolution the United States would continue to play the dominant political role through the work of CPA Administrator Paul Bremer and his coalition colleagues.
Powell said, in response to a question, that this resolution was not prompted by continuing U.S. military casualties.
"It is related to the evolutionary process that we've always had in mind to eventually restoring sovereignty back to the Iraqi people for their own country, their own wealth, their own lives, their own destiny," Powell said.
Powell said this resolution puts the U.N. Security Council "into the game" of assisting in the reconstruction of Iraq. He said the Iraqi Governing Council would be reporting to the Security Council on its plans and what the transition should look like, along with a timetable.
Powell also noted that a Polish military unit has assumed command of multinational forces in the central region of Iraq, and that the newly appointed cabinet was sworn in September 3 by the Iraqi Governing Council.
"This is all consistent with our goal of meeting our responsibilities in Iraq, but doing it in a way that quickly turns political responsibility over to Iraqis as fast as that can be made to happen, and as they are prepared to assume these responsibilities and act first as a Governing Council, then as an interim administration, and ultimately, to take responsibility for their own sovereignty and their own future," Powell said.
Following is the transcript of Powell's remarks:
STATE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL BRIEFING
BRIEFER: SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL
STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING ROOM
SEPTEMBER 3, 2003
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good afternoon. I just thought I'd say a few words about some developments with respect to Iraq. I think you all noted earlier today that in a significant turnover of responsibility, the Polish division has assumed responsibility for 90 percent of the central region from the U.S. The remaining 10 percent will be turned over in due course, around Najaf, once things settle down a little bit.
But I think this shows the strength of the international coalition and the willingness of nations to assume responsibilities in Iraq to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country and rebuild lives for 24 million people who have been desperately in need for all these years. We should all take note that we do have quite a number of countries participating in this effort, and we hope more countries will join in due course.
On the political front in Iraq today, I hope you also took notice of the fact that the Governing Council appointed the new cabinet and swore it in today. So the political process is moving along as well.
This is all consistent with our goal of meeting our responsibilities in Iraq and doing it in a way that quickly turns political responsibility over to Iraqis as fast as that can be made to happen and as they are prepared to assume these responsibilities and act: first as a governing council and then as an interim administration and ultimately to take responsibility for their own sovereignty and their own future.
And at the same time, on the military side, we welcome the contributions made by other nations, and we hope other nations will make that contribution. This is all part of the president's strategy of making sure that this is an international operation. He has said that from the very beginning. It was a problem that was brought to the international community last September. We worked it through Resolution 1441, and after the conflict we began working once again with the international community through the U.N., through Resolution 1483, which encouraged nations to contribute to the peacekeeping and stability efforts; and then Resolution 1500, a few weeks ago, which welcomed the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council.
Today, we have begun a new effort with respect to our diplomatic efforts to generate international support for Iraq. The president has authorized me and, through me, Ambassador Negroponte, to begin consultations with Security Council members on a new resolution. I have already begun discussing this resolution with my colleagues on the Security Council in capitals. I've spoken so far today to Foreign Secretary Straw, Foreign Minister Ivanov of Russia, Foreign Minister de Villepin of France, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, and I will be making many more calls in the course of the day and the next day, and I have also spoken to Secretary General Kofi Annan about it.
The consultations will be based on a draft resolution that we will be providing to Security Council members today and through tomorrow, and there are a couple of key elements in this draft resolution that I'd like to focus on.
The first is: the draft resolution will invite the Iraqi Governing Council to submit a plan, a program and a timetable, for its political evolution through the writing of a constitution, putting in place the necessary institutions of government and the conduct of free elections so that they can determine how they will be led in the future; and, and at that point, after free elections, you have the conditions for sovereignty so that they can assume sovereignty over their own country once again, and the Coalition Provisional Authority and the military presence would be a matter of partnership between the new Iraqi government -- an Iraqi government led by Iraqis for Iraqis -- and whatever partners they wish to continue to help them in that process.
So many people have asked us for a political horizon, and this resolution is a way of creating such a political horizon and demonstrating how we would get to that horizon by inviting -- who? -- the Iraqis -- to come forward with a plan and with a timetable, and to do it in conjunction and in cooperation with Ambassador Bremer and his staff, and with the secretary general's representative in the region.
The second key element in the resolution will be a multinational force, authorization of a multinational force under unified command. The unified command, of course, is there already in the presence of the Central Command representatives who are in Iraq, and we would invite additional nations to participate in such multinational efforts.
As I noted earlier, there are some 30 countries who are there now, another 10 are on the way, and a number of others are considering whether they will be able to contribute to such a force. And we hope that this -- with this additional demonstration of the will of the international community that we'll encourage more countries or make it easier for some countries who are looking at the prospects now to make such a contribution.
Those are the two key elements: political horizon, inviting the Governing Council to come forward with one, and a timetable; and the second part having to do with authorization of a multinational force.
This is a resolution of the kind that I have suggested to you for a number of weeks now that we would be looking at and exploring with our partners, and it's the kind of resolution that Deputy Secretary Armitage made a reference to last week. But it's an evolutionary process as we have moved from the actual conflict through 1483, through 1500, and now beginning consultations on a new resolution.
There are other elements in the draft resolution having to do with expanded role for the U.N. so they can perform the vital role that the President always expected them to do in such areas as helping with reconstruction efforts, in generating more funds for reconstruction, assisting in the creation of an electoral system, an electoral process. The U.N. has a number of agencies that bring great skill and experience to the task of nation-building, and we believe by including this in the resolution it will give a greater sense of purpose to the U.N. and give the U.N. more to work with.
There will also be language in there that encourages the international financial institutions to do everything they can to help with the reconstruction effort and encourage all nations in the world to give to this effort and accelerate pledges that they have already made.
There are other elements in the resolution, but I won't belabor it all. You'll see it in due course.
As I say, this is a draft resolution, and now begins the process of discussion with our friends. The initial reactions that I have gotten so far right now are positive. This is before my colleagues have had a chance to study the resolution, but the idea of a resolution and the general direction of the resolution, as I just described to you, seems to be well received by my colleagues, and we'll be doing some serious discussions and negotiating in the days ahead.
With that, I'll stop and take your questions.
QUESTION: Instead of the usual two-for-one, I'll try a three-for-one, but I'll keep it quick.
A U.S. commander, still?
Second thing. You said not too long ago the U.S. should play the dominant role in Iraq. Are you changing your mind about that?
And, third, is this change a response to continuing U.S. casualties?
SECRETARY POWELL: On the first point, the U.S. will remain the commander of the unified command and there will be an element in the resolution that calls upon the United States as the leader of the military coalition to report on a regular basis to the United Nations, since it is a United Nations-authorized multinational force, if the resolution passes.
Certainly, the United States will continue to play a dominant role, a dominant political role through the work of Ambassador Bremer and his coalition colleagues, and a dominant role because of the size of the U.S. force presence that is there and the leadership we are providing to the effort.
But a dominant role doesn't mean the only role. There are many roles to be played, and we believe that every peace-loving nation in the world, every nation that would like to see a more stable Middle East, that would like to see a democracy arise in that part of the world, would want to play a role. Whether one might call it dominant or not dominant, it's important for us to come together as an international community, and this is a further step in that direction. It's an evolutionary step because it's a resolution I have been talking about for weeks. We just finally found it was time.
And it's not related to U.S. casualties. We regret any loss of life, U.S. or otherwise. We condemn the tragic bombings that have taken place. But it shows that terrorists try to get a foothold. These bombings are relatively sophisticated. It's not some teenager shooting an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] or taking a shot at some soldiers. So there are clearly indications that terrorists are trying to take advantage of this situation; terrorists are trying to destroy the hopes and dreams of the Iraqi people now that they have been liberated from that awful regime that for 30 years has ruined -- gone about ruining this country and squandering its treasure on weapons and in developing threats against its neighbors. And the United States and its coalition partners and, I believe, the international community will not tolerate this kind of terrorist activity in Iraq any more than we are going to tolerate it anywhere else.
And so no, it is not related to casualties. It is related to the evolutionary process that we have always had in mind to eventually restoring sovereignty back to the Iraqi people for their own country, their own wealth, their own lives, their own destiny.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned that your -- the reaction that you've gotten, the initial reaction from your counterparts has been generally positive, but there are some on the Council who have said that in order for them to support a new resolution there has to be a sharing of information and a sharing of responsibilities and decision making. And I am just wondering: What you have outlined, at least on the two major points of this draft, doesn't seem to have that element. It has the expanded role for the U.N. in some areas, but essentially the military stays under the United States and you have -- you're looking for the Iraqis to come forward themselves.
But what about -- is there any provision in the resolution for a sharing of decision making and responsibilities either on the political side or the military side?
SECRETARY POWELL: With a resolution, you are essentially putting the Security Council into the game, and there will be reporting procedures in the resolution. And the very fact that the Governing Council is the body being invited by the Security Council to report to the Security Council on its plans to send to the Security Council what it thinks the transition should look like with some semblance of a timetable, and that it is being developed along with Ambassador Bremer, as well as with the governing -- as well as with the U.N. secretary general's representative, shows the involvement of the Security Council.
I don't know of any of my Security Council colleagues who said, "We want to be the military commander," quite the contrary, nor has anybody in the senior leadership of the U.N. said they wish to become military commander. So I think all of the desires that have been expressed to know more about what's going on, [rather] than to have shared responsibility, can be addressed with this resolution.
And although I did get a positive response, let me not overplay that. This is before they have studied the resolution and had a chance to make their own judgments. And as I have discovered with these resolutions, there is a large difference between an "and" and an "or."
And so I don't want to speak for any of my colleagues. They are all -- they all have their own political process they have to go through, have to speak to their head of government, head of state. And there will be some discussions I'm sure that will be enlightening, intense, and, hopefully, fruitful.
QUESTION: Sir, in reference to foreign troops, how many foreign troops do you think are needed for reconstruction efforts and stabilization efforts in Iraq? And the key point is, how long do you think it will take to get these troops on the ground? They are needed now, are they not?
SECRETARY POWELL: I can't give you an answer on number of troops required. I think the Pentagon could -- might be able to help you with that, but I think they would be welcoming of any contribution. So let's not worry about not having too many volunteers. Let's see how many people are willing to volunteer. And I'm sure that the military authorities will call those forward, as they have needs for them and a place to put them.
It takes time to generate forces. It took time to generate the Polish division with the other nations that are a part of the Polish division. And, of course, you would like to see them all right away, but that's not possible. In the case of Turkey, for example, they are considering it, but they have a political process, and perhaps a Parliamentary vote that they will have to take, in due course, if they choose to move in that direction.
And other nations that might make a contribution, India, Bangladesh and others, have their own political dynamic that has to be considered. But I think I can say that we are very pleased and encouraged by the response we have had so far that 30 nations have contributed something over 20,000 troops, who are there or on the way there, and that's pretty significant.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, some Iraqi leaders have called for the forming of popular militias to provide security on the ground. Do you have any response to this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think anything that can be done that would put security responsibilities into the hands of responsible Iraqi police units, military units, militia units -- and let's keep militia in the good sense, as opposed to some militias that are rogue militias -- but anything that gives the Iraqi people more buy-in to their own -- more responsibility for their own security, is to be encouraged. They know their communities. They know their neighborhoods.
We would like to turn over as much as we can to them, but we have to make sure that these organizations, whether they are police, militia, military and these individuals, are there to provide security, they are responsible and they mean well for the Iraqi people. But we have to do this in a careful way, and I know that's what Ambassador Bremer and the military commanders are doing.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, including the other nations that come under the Polish division, among nations you're encouraging, is the U.S. willing to pay the freight of those troops and is the U.S. paying for some of those under the Polish?
SECRETARY POWELL: The Pentagon is paying some of the bill. I don't have the details. I'd have to refer you to [Defense Secretary] Don [Rumsfeld] and his guys with respect to transportation costs and other sustaining costs associated with the Polish contribution and other contributions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in some capitals -- the countries [that are] members of the Security Council -- there is still a lot of criticism to the United States that these unilateral action[s] create the instability inside Iraq and the United States has to solve it as unilateral, too; it wasn't any terrorism in Iraq before the war.
So how do you respond to these criticisms?
SECRETARY POWELL: I would submit, first of all, that the greatest terrorist inside Iraq was Saddam Hussein, and he's gone. And let's not -- let's not play down or underestimate the reign of terror that he ran for close to 30 years over the Iraqi people, and that's gone.
And now that we are in there and the people are free and we are able to help them, we can see what he did to the infrastructure, we can see what he did to children's health programs, we can see what has happened to that country. We have opened the mass graves and we know the kind of terrorist he was. And he is gone and he is not coming back, nor are any of his henchmen.
The remnants of the regime are still there causing trouble. They will be found. They will be dealt with. We will build up an Iraqi police force, an Iraqi military, Iraqi political institutions. We are hard at work in rebuilding the Iraqi economy. It's going to be difficult work. It's going to be expensive work. Let there be no doubt about that.
But he is gone. The Iraqi people will have a better life, and we will demonstrate in Iraq that democracy can work in that part of the world, and hopefully it will be an inspiration to others in that part of the world.
QUESTION: Matt mentioned there are other countries who have been critical of the U.S. because they want -- they don't want the U.S. to have a leading role here. But as you mentioned, no country has stepped forward to say they want to take it. What do you make of that, then? Is it just complaining for the sake of complaining, or is this still a leftover residue of dissatisfaction from the way the U.S. went about getting or, you know, not getting a resolution to go in there in the first place?
SECRETARY POWELL: We did get a resolution to go in there in the first place: 1441, in our judgment, which was passed unanimously by the Security Council, was sufficient basis. The second resolution, which we withdrew because we were not going to get a vote on it because some nations threatened to veto it, and we just didn't take it to a vote, was not a necessary resolution, in our view. And we went in with a coalition of willing nations.
Now, there were many of our friends in the Security Council who would have preferred that we not go in, preferred that inspectors continued their work for an indefinite period of time, and we don't need to re-fight that battle. But once we went in with the British and the Australians and the Spanish and others who contributed to this effort and did the job, we then made a conscious decision among the international community that now is the time to mend ranks and to join together in reconstructing Iraq, making it a better place, and not to fight the old battles.
And it was from that point on that we have had success with Resolution 1483, with Resolution 1500, and I hope we will have success with this resolution as well. And that is why the number of countries participating in the peacekeeping effort has gone up and more countries are contributing to it, and that is why you see in your screens this morning a Polish officer taking responsibility for a large part of the central region.
And so I think more and more people realize that Saddam Hussein is gone, a terrorist is gone, somebody who was a threat to his neighbors is gone and that regime is gone, and now the difficult but important and doable task of rebuilding is before us. And that is what we have to come together to do, and that is the president's commitment. Our president is in this for the long haul. He has made that clear to the American people and to the international community, and we're asking the international community to join us even more than they have in the past in that effort.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if I could ask you a question on the Middle East: You have been calling on Yasser Arafat to consolidate these security services. He has been loathe to do that, and sees that there is a lot of disputes between him and Prime Minister Abbas. And now Yasser Arafat is saying that given the Israeli military actions, the roadmap is dead. Israel is calling for the expulsion of Arafat once again.
What can the U.S. do to get the parties focused back on the roadmap? And do you think that Israel should expel Yasser Arafat?
SECRETARY POWELL: We didn't deal with Yasser Arafat when we were putting the roadmap together, and so his comments don't mean a whole lot to me and I am not responding to them in any way.
The Palestinian Authority that we deal with, the Prime Minister, who has been our interlocutor because Mr. Arafat has proven to be not a good interlocutor for peace over the years, still is committed to the roadmap. I believe the roadmap is the way forward. It puts down obligations that both sides have, commitments they have made. They made them to the world at Aqaba not too long ago.
We got started on it and some progress is being made, slow progress but progress. And, once again, terrorists, those who do not want to see a home for the Palestinian people, those who just want to destroy the dreams of the Palestinian people and want to kill innocent people, undertook acts of violence which are setting us back.
What we have said is that all of the security forces that are within the Palestinian community, if I can put it that way, should be under the direction of a single individual, and that single individual should report to the Prime Minister.
Mr. Arafat has not been playing a helpful role. And if he wanted to play a helpful role, he would be supporting Prime Minister Abbas, not frustrating his efforts. And those forces that still receive their instructions from Mr. Arafat should be put under the responsibility of Mr. Abbas, so that Mr. Abbas and his security people can go after these terrorists. They're killing innocent people and destroying the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people.
If they don't like the roadmap, I don't know what they will like. Because the roadmap shows the way forward to the end of violence, the end of terror, and the creation of a Palestinian state. That was the president's vision put forward on the 24th of June last year. And if that doesn't work, then, as I have said previously, we're going to go off into a ditch or over a cliff. And so we still are committed to the roadmap, and we hope both parties will not abandon the obligations they entered into in Aqaba.
QUESTION: You talked a little bit about starting to circulate the draft resolution today. What is the timetable?
SECRETARY POWELL: In the normal course of events, we'll give the resolution out today. Ambassador Negroponte and Ambassador Cunningham in New York are hard at work on this already. We have to give time for the permanent representatives in New York to examine it; and we're also sending it, in some cases, directly to capitals. But the permanent representatives in New York will send it back to capitals.
It takes a day or two for them to study it and to get a reaction and get instructions back from capital -- capitals. I would expect by the end of the week -- today being Wednesday -- by the end of the week, I will have received indications from my Security Council colleagues with respect to their reaction to the resolution and what suggestions they might have or what they want to talk about.
And then, next week, we will see where we are at the beginning of the week and push it as aggressively as we can. I don't know how long it will take, but I don't think this is an extended process, such as we saw with 1441. It's quite different.
Back there. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, customarily, the State Department does not work with religious entities, and as of late there have been numerous problems. We just had a cleric that was assassinated in the bombing last week in Iraq. This morning, for instance, they say the Taliban have burned a classroom saying that girls can't go to school, shouldn't go to school.
Is there any specific envoy or any particular thing that the State Department would do to work with some of these religious bodies, meaning Islamic entities, throughout the Middle East, as well as Asia?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I mean, I work with many different groups and countries around the world -- to include religious groups. I have an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and we reach out to faith-based groups in our country, in other countries, and we believe they have a role to play.
We also feel strongly that to take advantage of the 21st-century opportunities that are out there, one must educate women and give women every opportunity that men have, and we have made this particular point in our strategy in Afghanistan from the very beginning.
I have had women leaders come here and I will also be working with faith leaders in all of these countries. And you can't leave out any segment of society, especially faith, and this shows no reluctance on the part of the State Department to work with religious groups.
I have got to give -- I am going to take only one more question because Ambassador Boucher is going to get docked his pay if I stay up here two minutes longer.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you talked about the sophistication of the bombings that had happened in Iraq. Is there any better sense today as to who is responsible for these bombings, and are they all tied together?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, and [I] don't know. I don't think we have a sense yet of who is responsible, and I don't know if they are tied together. But, clearly, when you look at the nature of the event -- and it takes a level of sophistication -- not brain surgery or Ph.D.-level work -- but some planning, some reconnaissance, some sophistication in putting together a weapon such as that, a terror weapon such as that, and then planning the strike. And so that's what we'll be focusing on, patterns, methods of operation, and who might be responsible for it, but we don't have any answers yet.
I do have to go. I hope you'll forgive me but --
QUESTION: Can you say something about your concerns about Aung San Suu Kyi before you leave?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have consistently expressed our concern about her and the plight in which she finds herself, and we will not relent with the pressure that we have been putting on the Burmese Government to make sure that: (1) she is safe: and (2) let's reach a situation where she can be allowed to move freely and participate in the public life of the country.
We continue to condemn the Burmese Government for the kind of actions they have taken, and we have shown our level of condemnation by supporting Congressional action. And you'll recall that we raised this at the ARF meetings in Cambodia a few weeks ago.