Focus: Iraq crisis-Annan intervention proves decisive

KOFI ANNAN, the United Nations Secretary General, appeared last night to be back playing a pivotal role in efforts to avert military action against Iraq by the US and Britain.

Hopes for a possible diplomatic resolution to the stand-off suddenly flickered into life early yesterday. It happened as Baghdad responded to a letter drafted by Mr Annan over Friday night, following a five-hour marathon meeting of the UN Security Council.

Mr Annan's message, according to UN sources, was short and direct. He had once more urged Saddam Hussein to back down from the brink. He also reminded him of an offer made by the Council just before the crisis erupted for a so-called "Comprehensive Review" of the UN sanctions regime imposed on Iraq after the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

Until yesterday, it seemed that Mr Annan had been almost entirely sidelined from the process. The hardliners in the Security Council - the United States and Britain - had made it clear they did not want a repeat of last February, when Mr Annan defused the last all-out crisis over UN weapons inspections. The deal he struck, however, turned out to be hollow.

Among the legacies of that process, however, was the appointment by Mr Annan of a special representative to Baghdad. That person is Prakash Shah, who yesterday appeared to be orchestrating the new dialogue. "This is UN diplomacy at work again," said Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector. In September, Mr Ritter resigned from Unscom, the UN body charged with hunting down weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, claiming that the US had been undermining its work.

It remains unclear whether the statements from Baghdad yesterday will be enough to end this stand-off. Even as word emerged that Saddam had agreed to allow Unscom to return to Iraq, some diplomats in New York continued to warn that it might not be enough to satisfy Washington. The US and Britain insisted once more in Friday's Council meeting that Saddam must do nothing less than comply with all UN resolutions.

If bombing is held off and a momentum towards a peaceful solution is allowed to gather, then the exact nature of the comprehensive review will be the pivotal issue. In a statement on Friday night after his long meeting with Security Council ambassadors, Mr Annan reiterated that if Unscom was put back on track, discussions on implementing a review would begin, adding: "I trust the Council will be in a position to lift the sanctions."

Critical to the debate is the exact status of Article 22 of UN resolution 687, the original resolution passed after Iraq's 1991 surrender. It states that it will be allowed to resume oil sales once Unscom has certified that Iraq is rid of all weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam decided to break relations with Unscom last month, precisely because the Council's offer of a review did not make explicit reference to Article 22. It did not because the Americans are uncomfortable with evoking it. Officially, Washington believes that the article cannot be implemented until Iraq complies with all the conditions applied after the Gulf War. Unofficially, however, the US may not want to lift the oil ban until one other thing happens - Saddam is no longer in power.

Suggested Topics
Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Life and Style
i100

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst – 2 year fixed term contract – Kent – Circa £55k

    £45000 - £55000 Per Annum 31 days holiday, pension, healthcare, annual bonus: ...

    **SEN Primary Teacher Serf Unit **

    £110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experie...

    Experienced Foundation Teacher

    £100 - £222 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recruiting f...

    SEN Learning Support Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: SEN TA's apply now! West Midlands

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week