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How exactly? The United Nations should be doing more to muster global support for the unity government in the Green Zone, and it should take a broad role to resolve border disputes, wrote U.N. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, in an op-ed published last week.

He also suggested the organization should be more effective in leading Iraq’s religious and tribal leaders to the negotiating table.

“First, the United Nations has unmatched convening power that can help Iraq“s principal communities reach a national compact on the distribution of political and economic power,” he wrote in the New York Times.

“In the role of mediator, it has inherent legitimacy and the flexibility to talk to all parties, including elements outside the political process.”

In his first six months in office, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon deliberately carried a small stick on Iraq, tiptoeing around the messy bits and championing whatever consensus he could find. But he will soon have to replace the oddly reticent Mr. Qazi, whose term as U.N. secretary-general for Iraq is coming to an end. His choice could signal a shift in U.N. intentions.

c Betsy Pisik may be reached by e-mail at