UN Security Council Sets Emergency Debate on Iraq
By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters - 25 March) - The U.N. Security Council agreed on Tuesday to hold an emergency debate on Iraq but Arab envoys were undecided whether to push a resolution demanding an immediate end to the U.S.-led war.
The debate was set for Wednesday at 3 p.m. and council diplomats said all 191 U.N. members would be invited to speak rather than just the council's 15 member-nations.
Arab diplomats said they feared a resolution calling for an immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq could be defeated and thereby serve to legitimize the U.S.-British invasion after the fact.
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe, who on Monday said the Arab group at the United Nations intended to seek adoption of a resolution demanding an end to the U.S.-led invasion, said on Tuesday that no decision had yet been made on a resolution.
"No, not yet," Wehbe said when asked whether Arab envoys had decided to press for a resolution.
He said the emergency council debate would give U.N. members a chance "to raise their voices."
"After that, we will see what we can do in the light of the discussions," Wehbe said.
Another Arab envoy, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, "We are holding off on putting forward a draft resolution. We must first see what is possible."
The Arab group of 22 countries formally requested an urgent Security Council debate on Monday evening after Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo adopted a declaration demanding an immediate end to the Iraq war and the withdrawal of all foreign forces.
The group's request was delivered to the council by Iraqi U.N. ambassador Mohammed Aldouri, this month's Arab group president.
The U.N. group of 166 non-aligned nations, currently led by Malaysia, also backed an emergency session, and routine council approval of the request had been widely expected.
But a resolution demanding an end to the U.S.-led attack on Iraq would appear to have no chance of approval. Both the United States and Britain have veto power in the council.
In addition, six of the council's 15 members refused to take sides earlier this month when the United States and Britain pushed for a resolution giving Iraq an ultimatum to quickly show its commitment to disarmament or face war.