Hopes After U.N. Vote

A U.S. soldier stands guard next to destroyed vehicles as the United Nations' flag hangs half-staffed at the headquarters, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2003, in Baghdad, Iraq. A cement truck packed with explosives detonated Tuesday outside the offices of the top U.N. envoy for Iraq, killing him and 19 other people and devastating the U.N. in an unprecedented attack against the world body. At least 100 others were injured.
AP
The United States and its biggest allies are proclaiming that Tuesday's unanimous U.N. vote on a resolution authorizing the handover of sovereignty to an interim government will heal their bitter divisions over Iraq.

Terrorists now "know they have the whole world against them," Prime Minister Tony Blair said.

The Security Council gave a resounding 15-0 endorsement to the U.S. resolution, which President Bush predicted the measure would instill democracy and be a "catalyst for change" in the Middle East.

France and Germany dropped their objections after the resolution included a last-minute compromise giving Iraqi leaders control over the activities of their own troops and a say on "sensitive offensive operations" by the multinational force — such as the controversial siege of Fallujah. But the measure stops short of granting the Iraqis a veto over major U.S.-led military operations.

"After 11th hour haggling between France and the U.S. over control of foreign military forces, the Bush Administration pulled this one out of the fire," said CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst Pamela Falk.

But problems still simmered. Iraqi and U.N. officials sought to reassure Kurds that the resolution included the "spirit" of an interim constitution that would have given them more power, even though no direct mention is made.

Leaders of Iraq's two main Kurdish parties had hinted they may not participate in the new government or future elections if the U.N. resolution adopted Tuesday failed to endorse the temporary charter, which they believe protects their autonomy in the north.

In addition to keeping disparate religious and ethnic groups together in an interim government, continuing security threats are also a concern — especially for U.S. commanders facing a tight constraints on troop numbers. American troops in Iraq have had their tours extended, and National Guard and Reserve soldiers are playing an increasingly large role.

Hopes that the new resolution would spur offers of fresh troops from foreign countries have dimmed, but have not disappeared.

At the Group of Eight summit in Georgia, Mr. Bush said Wednesday that he envisions a wider role for NATO in post-occupation Iraq.

Standing alongside Blair, his top ally in the war in Iraq, Mr. Bush noted that many NATO nations already are part of the coalition in Iraq and he hoped to "expand it a bit."

Some 15 NATO nations have forces in Iraq. Asked if he envisioned a larger role for NATO, Mr. Bush said he did. "I think NATO ought to stay involved and I think we have a good chance of getting it done," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush did not elaborate, but administration officials said that the United States would like to see NATO get involved in training the new Iraqi army, in addition to having NATO members currently in Iraq remain there.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh — which has said it will consider a deployment of peacekeeping troops to Iraq only under a U.N. mandate — welcomed the new resolution.

"It is a step in the right direction toward restoration of full sovereignty, peace and stability in Iraq," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

U.S. ally Australia also praised the U.N. vote.

"What this resolution does is put beyond any argument that the first step in creating a democratic Iraq has been taken," Prime Minister John Howard told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

It shows that "full international authority (is) being given to vesting sovereignty into this interim government," Howard said. "If in fact we can see the emergence of a democratic Arab state, then that is going to have a profoundly beneficial impact on the whole region and the whole Arab world."

Russian Foreign Minster Sergey Lavrov said Moscow was satisfied with the legitimacy of the interim government and with provisions for Iraqi control over U.S.-led forces.

Echoing President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov said passage of the resolution "opens a qualitatively new stage" in Iraq that leads toward the restoration of sovereignty. He called it "one of the most important world events."

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan threw his support behind the measure.

"I think they've come up with a resolution which is equitable and fair and I think all sides should be able to work with it," he said.

The resolution spells out the powers and the limitations of the new interim Iraqi government that will assume power on June 30. It authorizes the U.S.-led multinational force to remain in Iraq to help ensure security but gives the Iraqi government the right to ask the force to leave at any time.

"The 'deal maker' was a compromise that allows each nation to command its own forces, requires cooperation on offensive sensitive military operations and allows Iraq to ask the forces to leave," Falk said.

The interim government — put together by a U.N. envoy, the Americans and their Iraqi allies — hopes the vote will give it a legitimacy that eluded its predecessor, the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council. That legitimacy would put it in a better position to curry support among fellow Arab regimes and seek economic help from abroad.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, speaking in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations, predicted it would have a "positive impact" on security by removing the perception of the U.S.-led multinational force as an occupying power.

Although the resolution says the interim government will have authority to ask the force to leave, new Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi indicated in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell that the force will remain at least until an elected transitional government takes power early next year.