15 MARCH 2008

Last we heard of the former Special Representative to Iraq was that he was appointed in Sudan. That was some months ago. About the same time Greeter/Meeter Demistura was designated for Iraq, sustained by the very capable young Mr. Chatterjee. The Swede/Italian / Italian/Swede has an open mind on the Pakistan India dispute. An Indian son-in-law of one Secretary General follows a Pakistani son of a Chef de Cabinet. Whatever works. So, Qazi was moved. His Foreign Minister pleads. There is no place the Ministry could accommodate him, particularly at these changing times. The Chef de Tandoori understands that feeling. He himself would have transferred to Delhi if they could find a decent spot for him. So they dump Qazi on Sudan. They claim it is separate from Darfur. Linked but unrelated. True, the government of Khartoum has not been helpful on Darfur. It has been dragging its feet, going round everyone in circles. But that's a matter for the other equally accommodated envoy, Jan Eliasson. Each one is entitled to have his own claim on failure. Meanwhile, Demistura has been cooling his heels on Iraq. Nobody there bothers with him and he doesn't bother anybody. Occasionally, "por la belle figure" some activity has to be posted. The latest was an "appeal to all Iraqi parties to engage in a constructive dialogue and take mutual confidence building measures." To make the point, irrelevant Steffan is pictured almost daily on the U.N. website, wagging his finger. He better keep it to himself. Nobody wanted him there in the first place and nobody there takes him seriously. Nor does anyone in Sudan even bother to feign interest in what the other irrelevant new envoy Qazi has to say.

Is that how you get results? Is that how you regain the U.N. role? Or is it merely continuity with farce.