Brahimi and the "Legitimacy" of the UN

An article by Michael Rubin, published in National Review and posted in the Free Iran forum, raises serious doubts about not only the Brahimi plan and the United Nations, but also the role of the State Department in building a democratic Iraq.

Citing America’s betrayal of the Iraqi uprising in 1991 - in which a Kurdish official charges that “you helped Saddam. Why else would you release the Republican Guard prisoners just in time for them to rearm and regroup” – Rubin explains:

And so, from an Iraqi perspective, history repeats itself. Iraqis today say they face another betrayal. While many Americans know U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi only as the facilitator of the Afghanistan Loya Jirga process, Iraqis have greater experience with the former Algerian foreign minister. A staunch Nasserist, they say Brahimi is much more interested in rehabilitating former senior Baathist officers than in promoting democracy. Brahimi has demonstrated disdain not only for Iraq's Kurdish minority, but also for Iraq's Shia majority. As undersecretary of the Arab League between 1984 and 1991, Brahimi stood silent as Saddam massacred more than 100,000 Iraqi Kurds, and then perhaps 400,000 Iraqi Shia. As Iraqis discover and excavate new mass graves every week, there are constant reminders of Brahimi's silence. Visiting Baghdad on U.N. business in 1997, Brahimi added insult to injury, as Iraqi television showed Brahimi embracing Saddam's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, a man whom Iraqis hope to try for crimes against humanity.

A U.N. affiliation may lend Brahimi legitimacy on the streets of Washington and London, but it does not in Basra, Baghdad, or Erbil.

Rubin cites the “legendary” corruption of UN officials in the now-notorious “oil for palaces” program. This is not a small thing. There are also serious problems with Brahimi: for example, his disingenuous claim that professional Iraqis without Ba’ath ties are hard to come by, when he knows full well that there are thousands of educators and medical personnel who refused to collaborate with the regime.

Read the whole article here:

or here:

Iraq’s future is of concern to freedom-loving Iranians, and conversely. As this article appears on the Free Iran board, the passage pointing to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell’s complicity in the 1991 massacre is pointedly highlighted.

The White House must not tolerate attempts by New York or Foggy Bottom to undermine Iraqi democracy. As Michael Rubin rightly concludes, we have promised Iraq true freedom, and we must deliver.