- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

The United Nations has done extensive contingency planning for administering a postwar Iraq, but has no secret plan for running the country, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday.
U.N. officials were stung and embarrassed by the leak of a 60-page blueprint for a U.N. civil authority to be installed in Baghdad just months after a likely U.S.-led military operation to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"I think it is unfortunate that that document has been given such importance," Mr. Annan told reporters in New York yesterday. "There is no 'U.N. plan' for administering post-conflict Iraq."
News of the document, prepared last week for U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette, came as a sharply divided Security Council wrestles with whether to authorize force to disarm Iraq. Several countries opposed to war have also tried to block any U.N. planning for Iraq, arguing it would signal the world body has concluded conflict is inevitable.
The Bush administration has sent mixed signals about its own ideas for a post-Saddam regime.
U.S. officials had been talking about an American military authority to govern the country for a lengthy period of time, dealing with security threats, disarmament issues and the eventual establishment of a new Iraqi civilian authority.
But a second approach backed by the State Department foresees a much larger and earlier role for the United Nations in Iraq, regardless of whether the Security Council winds up endorsing a military campaign.
Retired Gen. Jay Garner, the Pentagon's point man on postwar Iraqi reconstruction and the person many expect to run Iraq immediately after Saddam's ouster, met with Miss Frechette and other U.N. officials in New York on Monday to discuss the world body's role after the war.
The centerpiece of the outline, first reported in the London Times, foresees a U.N.-administered transitional authority along the lines of Afghanistan after allied forces ousted the Taliban.
The plan would stop short of establishing a full-fledged U.N. administration to govern Iraq, take control of its oil wealth or prepare political reforms. As in Afghanistan, the U.N. overseers would move as quickly as feasible to transfer authority to an interim Iraqi government.
"While public statements assert that coalition forces will be responsible for military and civil administration in the immediate period following the conflict, the likelihood of a more substantial involvement of the U.N. in the transition (post three-month) phase cannot be discounted," the task force report concluded.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said yesterday the contingency planning was part of a larger task force reporting to Miss Frechette, involving a number of the world body's humanitarian and relief agencies dealing with Iraq.
Rafeeuddin Ahmed, a former U.N. Development Program official, presented Miss Frechette with an extended survey of U.N. administrative efforts in the aftermath of past wars, and it was this document that was leaked to the press, Mr. Eckhard said.
The United Nations, the U.S. government, the European Union and private groups have all been preparing humanitarian relief programs for Iraq, even as the debate over war continues.
"We are duty-bound to do some preparation," said Moustapha Omar, regional representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Kuwait City over the weekend.

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