Baghdad challenges world to use force

IN THE latest example of what has become a worrying pattern of defiance towards the Gulf war victors and the United Nations, Iraq yesterday boycotted negotiations to redraw its border with Kuwait, effectively telling the Security Council that it would require force before Iraq ceded territory.

Iraq has correctly sensed that the Security Council is nowhere near as united an organisation as it was during the Gulf war, and its challenges to the Council's authority have been met only with rhetorical rumblings from the US State Department and increasingly unconvincing warnings from such figures as Britain's UN ambassador, Sir David Hannay.

At a time when Serbia is flouting the Council's will on a daily basis, President Saddam Hussein has taken his cue from Belgrade by deciding to ignore the compulsory instructions of the international community. He has prevented UN inspectors from gaining access to documents, leading to a 10-day siege in a Baghdad parking lot; he has rejected the UN's terms for restarting oil exports to pay for war compensation and weapons destruction; he has also refused to provide the 500 UN guards protecting the Kurds with permission to stay, and their agreement to stay in the country has expired.

There is now a growing danger that Baghdad will try to prevent the UN from destroying the 1,000 tons of chemical and nerve gas agents which have been assembled at the Muthanna chemical weapons factory for destruction, beginning in September. Although Iraq has built an incinerator and a hydrolysis unit to carry out the destruction, its recent pattern of ending co-operation with the UN points to a serious clash over the chemical weapons.

Even as Rolf Ekeus, the head of the UN team which has been ridding Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, went to Baghdad to try to force the government's hand yesterday, it was clear to his senior colleagues in New York that he was heading for failure, given Iraq's new self-confidence.

The electoral difficulties of President George Bush, and America's increasing preoccupation with its internal problems, to the exclusion of the rest of the world, makes it all the more unlikely that there will be any military activity to bring Iraq back into line, in the view of UN diplomats.

Iraq's aggressive mood means that the ambitious agenda set by the Security Council in the ceasefire Resolution 687 may never be accomplished. In their euphoria at Iraq's total submission at the end of the Gulf war, the Western diplomats who drafted the peace terms, called it the 'Mother of All Resolutions'.

The Council's increasing inability to implement many of the peace terms is now being identified as a fatal weakness in the much-ballyhooed revival of the UN's role in maintaining international peace and security.

'Failure now by the Council, will be like the League of Nations' failure to halt Italy's invasion of Ethiopia. It will be a fatal blow to the organisation, just as it is gaining its feet,' a seasoned UN adviser commented.

Another sign of weakness at the international organisation is in Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge is refusing to co-operate and threatening the entire peace plan with collapse. Elsewhere, there has been an embarrassingly muted response by world leaders to the ambitious plans of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Secretary- General, to reform the organisation by asking countries to establish a permanent international fighting force under Security Council control. This, he said, 'is essential to the credibility of the United Nations as a guarantor of international security'.

There is no interest in the United States or Britain in putting fighting forces under UN command, as their limp response to the appeals for a fighting force in Bosnia has shown.

In the view of many diplomats, the inevitable conclusion in Baghdad, Belgrade and elsewhere is that the Council's short-lived ability to enforce the peace in the Gulf is dissipating.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own