Friday, September 26, 2003


Plays into the hands of the terrorists, according to one Iraqi Governing Council Member.

He's right of course.
The United Nations' decision to move most of its remaining staff out of Iraq is "playing into the hands of terrorists", according to a senior Iraqi official.

The minister responsible for foreign affairs in the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Hoshyar Zebari, told the BBC it was important for the UN to stay the course, despite two attacks on its headquarters in Baghdad.

The United States has also expressed disappointment at the UN decision, taken at a time when the Bush administration is trying to encourage broader international support for the reconstruction of Iraq.

But the continuing instability in Iraq was underlined by a mortar attack on a market in Baqouba, north of Baghdad, on Thursday which left eight civilians dead and 18 injured.

Iraqis are also preparing to bury Aqila al-Hashimi, a female member of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council who died on Thursday, five days after being shot in an ambush near her home.

Some 600 international staff were stationed in Iraq before the bomb attack on the UN's Baghdad offices last month, which killed 22 people, including the chief UN envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello - but that number has already fallen to a few dozen.

In the absence of international staff, the UN will rely on more than 4,000 Iraqis to continue mainly humanitarian work.

"Today there remain 42 in Baghdad and 44 in the north of the country, and those numbers can be expected to shrink over the next few days," said Fred Eckhard, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

"This is not an evacuation, just a further downsizing, and the security situation in the country remains under constant review," he added.

Which sounds to me like the old Army joke.

"We are not retreating...we are advancing to the rear."

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