Despite upsurge in violence, U.N. envoy says there is reason for "cautious optimism"

Despite upsurge in violence, U.N. envoy says there is reason for "cautious optimism"
September 15th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Despite upsurge in violence, U.N. envoy says there is reason for "cautious optimism"

Despite upsurge in violence, U.N. envoy says there is reason for "cautious optimism"
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 15 September 2006

UNITED NATIONS - Despite an upsurge in violence, the top U.N. envoy in Iraq
said Thursday "there is still reason for cautious optimism" about the
country's future as a stable, peaceful and prosperous state.

Ashraf Qazi told the U.N. Security Council that Iraq has become one of the
most violent conflict areas in the world although it has been overshadowed
in recent months by other crises in the Middle East.

But he said the resilience of the Iraqi people "in the face of a succession
of calamities and tribulations" shows they will not be defeated.

"The best option of the international community is to prove the pessimists
wrong by assisting the people and government of Iraq in realizing their
national vision," Qazi said.

Qazi and and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton strongly backed a meeting Monday at
U.N. headquarters of supporters of the International Compact on Iraq, which
was launched in July by the Iraqi government and the United Nations, with
support from the U.S. and Britain.

Over the next five years, Bolton said, the compact will "bring together the
international community and multilateral organizations to help Iraq achieve
its vision of a united, federal, and democratic country, at peace with its
neighbors and itself, and economically self-sufficient and prosperous."

Qazi called the compact "an initiative for a new partnership between Iraq
and the international community."

At the preparatory meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 10, he said, the Iraqi
government outlined the key priorities for the compact _ effective
management of its resources including oil, private sector and social sector
reforms, a new effort to tackle corruption, improved governance and budget
procedures, and stepped up efforts to build effective national institutions.

"The government recognized that good governance and resolution of security
and political challenges are interlinked, and prerequisites for progress in
all other areas," Qazi said.

Bolton said Iraq's neighbors also share some responsibility for the
country's security problems _ and all of them should do more to support the
country's democratic government by following through on pledges to provide
economic assistance and debt relief.

"Syria should prevent financial and material support, particularly arms,
from entering Iraq," Bolton said. "Iran should stop providing munitions and
other support to extremist groups in Iraq."

In the last three months, he said, "sectarian tensions, purposely incited by
insurgents and extremists, increased ... resulting in increased killings,
kidnappings, attacks on civilians, and increasing numbers of internally
displaced persons."

"Extremists are increasingly interlocked in retaliatory violence and seeking
to expand their existing areas of influence," Bolton said.

He called the sustained level of ethnic and sectarian violence "one of the
most significant threats to security and stability in Iraq."

Over the last three months, Bolton said, the average number of weekly
attacks increased 15 percent and Iraqi casualties increased by 51 percent
compared to the previous three months.

"The insurgency remains potent and viable, although its visibility has been
overshadowed by the increase in sectarian violence it has sought to foment,"
he said. "This rising sectarian strife defines the emerging nature of
violence in mid-2006."

But Bolton said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government has taken
"promising steps" toward national reconciliation and economic development
with the establishment of the International Compact. He said the
multinational force was continuing to train Iraqi security forces who are
conducting more independent operations every day.

"Training Iraqi security forces to assume primary responsibility for
security is essential," he said.

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