NEW YORK – Supporters and opponents of the Iraq war joined forces to help launch the country's interim government, unanimously adopting a U.N. resolution backing Iraqi sovereignty and giving the new leaders clout over a U.S.-led force.
The measure authorizes the U.S.-led multinational force for Iraq, but says the mandate will end when a constitutionally elected government takes power, expected by early 2006, or if the Iraqi government requests it.
It also gives the Iraqi government control over its oil revenues.
But whether the new government succeeds after the June 30 restoration of sovereignty will depend on its own efforts to rally support. It also remains unclear how other countries will respond to the resolution's call for troops and aid.
So far, there's been no rush to provide financial or military help, and Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Konuzin (search) said: "I don't think there are very many volunteers. There are enough forces — 150,000, that's enough."
The Security Council's (search) 15-0 vote on Tuesday followed two weeks of intense negotiations and a last-minute U.S. compromise on a key French and German demand for the resolution to state clearly that the Iraqi government will control all Iraqi forces and have veto power over their participation in military operations by the multinational force.
France and Germany, key opponents of the war, also wanted the interim government to have veto power over major military operations by the U.S.-led force, like the siege of Fallujah.
But Iraq's new leaders didn't demand such power, so Paris and Berlin agreed to the U.S.-Iraqi deal requiring the force and the new government to agree on "policy on sensitive offensive operations."
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said after the vote that "France cannot imagine that the multinational force would go against the opinion of Iraq's sovereign government."
France and other council nations praised the U.S. flexibility in trying to reach agreement. The measure adopted Tuesday was the fifth version of the U.S.-British draft since May 24.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) said the vote showed the council's willingness to come together after last year's divisions over the war to help the Iraqi people "take charge of their own political destiny."
"Obviously we are not there yet. Free and fair elections ... will be a historic milestone on Iraq's road to stability and peace," he said, but security must improve for voting to take place by January 2005.
President Bush said the measure will set the stage for democracy in Iraq and be a "catalyst for change" in the Middle East.
"The world community has spoken with one voice and given its support to the new Iraqi government," British Prime Minister Tony Blair said at the Group of Eight (search) summit in Sea Island, Ga. "The people of Iraq now know that the world community is united in helping them take charge of their future."
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte (search), who will become U.S. ambassador to Iraq early next month, said the resolution's unanimous adoption is "a vivid demonstration of broad international support" for what the text called "a federal, democratic, pluralist and unified Iraq, in which there is full respect for political and human rights."
The interim government — put together by a U.N. envoy, the Americans and their Iraqi allies — hopes the unanimous vote will give it a legitimacy that eluded its predecessor, the U.S.-appointedIraqi Governing Council (search). That legitimacy would put it in a better position to curry support among fellow Arab regimes and seek economic help from abroad.
"The Iraqis are committed to the rebuilding of their country and further committed that tyranny again will not again revisit them," said Feisel Istrabadi, the legal adviser to Iraq's Foreign Ministry, who represented Iraq at the council meeting. "We would welcome the international community's help."
Russia's Konuzin noted that the situation in Iraq "remains a bleeding wound in the Middle East and in world politics" and stressed that "only time will tell whether adoption of this resolution will help achieve a turnaround."
"Much here will depend on whether the Iraqis themselves sense a real transition from a military occupation to a restoration of sovereignty," he said.
Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali, the only Arab council member, warned that the future for the Iraqi people remained "loaded" with dangers and uncertainties and the resolution couldn't resolve all of them.
It's up to the governments that will lead the country to make the political transition work and ensure that the Iraqi peoples' dream of a free and democratic country becomes a reality, he said.