Monday, October 18, 2004

Bush nixes Muslim peacekeepers for Iraq

President George W. Bush rebuffed a plan last month for a Muslim peacekeeping force that would have helped the United Nations organize elections in Iraq, according to Saudi and Iraqi officials.

As a result, the UN continues to have a skeletal presence in Iraq, with only four staff members working full time on preparing for elections set for the end of January. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has refused to establish a new UN headquarters in Baghdad unless countries commit troops for a special force to protect it.

Saudi leaders, including Crown Prince Abdullah, personally lobbied Bush in July to sign off on the plan to establish a contingent of several hundred troops from Arab and Muslim nations. Abdullah discussed the plan in a 10-minute phone conversation with Bush on July 28 after meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to Saudi officials familiar with the negotiations.

Diplomats said Annan accepted the plan. But the Bush administration objected because the special force would have been controlled by the UN instead of by U.S. military officers who run the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Muslim and Arab countries refused to work under U.S. command, and the initiative died in early September.

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newsday.com

A tip of the hat goes out to Daily Kos.
E.P. Monday, October 18, 2004