|PONDERING IRAQ: SPECIAL ADVISER, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE,
SPECIAL ADVISER TO THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE
While pondering a U.N. role in post-war Iraq, whether "important" or "effective" or otherwise,
the appointment of a Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on this issue was announced.
Immediately thereafter, a communique clarified that the experienced and decent Rafeeuddin Ahmed
will not be making proposals, nor dealing substantively with the Security Council, nor traveling
anywhere. Within days, word went round that a Special Representative was being groomed. Mr.
Ahmad and Mr. Riza were exploring the chances of a former Foreign Minister of Thailand, described
as a "non-Arab muslim from Asia." Key governments were given only one option hinting that the
name was acceptable (or even "supported") by the Arab countries. It did not work. A Tunisian
was briefly mentioned. Kamel Morjane had served as Special Representative in the Congo (did you
say Congo?), but did not gather enough support despite his friendships within the peacekeeping
department; the Secretary-General reportedly knows him well. An Arab whose name was rarely
mentioned apparently turned it down. Lakhdar Brahimi would neither confirm nor deny consultations
with friends and colleagues.
Sergio Vieira de Millo was the last person the clique around the Secretary-General wanted to see
as Special Rep. He has an appealing charisma, and -- as proven in Kosovo and East Timor -- has a
canny talent to handle the media in several languages. More to the point, he could perform in
such a manner that would project his name as a possible contender for the post of Secretary-
General. Reports that he was highly appreciated by Dr. Condoleezza Rice added to speculation that
the assignment may be one small step for the U.N. and one large step for Sergio. However, the
announcement of his appointment indicated a time frame: a six month mandate. When the observant
Maggie Farley of the
Los Angeles Times asked the Secretary-General whether he had someone else in mind after that, he
gently demurred. Answering Al Jazeera correspondent who wondered why not
someone from the vast Arab or muslimm world, Annan smiled, suggesting to wait and see. As the
newly appointed Special
Rep made his first visit to Baghdad, a source reported the arrival of former Lebanese Minister of
culture Ghassan Salameh to join him as a Special Advisor. Dr. Salameh is a distinguished
professor at the University of Paris and a prominent participant in worldwide seminars on dialogue
among civilization. But what is his role? Is he there to stay or possibly take over? He is an
excellent choice. So is Ahmad Fawzi, selected as Spokesman -- but again, for one month only.
What is going on? Is it unintended confusion, chronic indecision, or a very cautious approach?
Whatever it is, the performance of the U.N. is being watched. Spreading an air of an ad hoc role
may be convenient internal politics, but unless a specific role emerges with a specific focus, the
general impression would be that the U.N. Secretariat is just tugging along, the only policy being
"whatever is allowed" or more briefly the policy of "whatever." And as usual, some self-important
characters will continue to blunder with impunity while the U.N. -- and its image -- pays the