1 August 2004

Away from the spotlight yet in the midst of real action, Lakhdar Brahimi has been consolidating his initial efforts to help Iraq -- and help the U.N. itself repair some of its lost credibility. The Special Advisor to the Secretary General and most prominent U.N. troubleshooter returned from a delicate and risky visit to Iraq to New York only briefly -- that is to brief the Secretary General and Security Council which took a decisive resolution. He then quietly attended a meeting of Islamic leaders in Istanbul, help crucial talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus and Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister Berham Saleh who also was visiting the Syrian capital. He then proceeded to Cairo for the meeting of foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbouring countries. Through his discreet prodding and wise counsel the participants agreed on specific actions, like an agreement between Egypt and Iraq, a forthcoming coordinating meeting of Interior ministers in Teheran and widespread support for a larger U.N. role. The experienced Brahimi -- confident through his modesty -- took all this in his stride. Again, he has done for the U.N. (and Iraq) in weeks what most of those around the Secretary General could not achieve in two years. More power to him.