Thursday, 16 December 2010

UN lifts sanctions against Iraq

The UN Security Council has lifted most of the international sanctions imposed on Iraq during Saddam Hussein's time in power. It also granted Iraq permission to develop a civil nuclear programme and officially discontinued the widely corrupt oil-for-food initiative.

The UN's resolution is in recognition of the political progress made in Iraq, after an eight month delay in the formation of a new government. Speaking about UN's decision, US Vice President Joseph Biden, who chaired the high-level meeting, commended Obama Administration's accomplishments.

UN Dispatch said Biden praised the “withdrawal of 100,000 troops and completion of the combat mission there, which has been accompanied by the transition from a military-led to civilian-led engagement.”

The resolution ending sanctions that were imposed to stop Iraq building nuclear weapons is a big step in granting the country its independence. The 2003 invasion of Iraq was prompted by fears that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

The council also voted to return control of Iraq's oil and gas revenue to the government on June 30th and to end all remaining activities of the oil-for-food programme, originally designed to help ordinary Iraqis cope with the sanctions.

Biden also said that violence in the country had reached its lowest levels since 2003 and that the remaining 50,000 troops will continue supporting their Iraqi counterparts in areas of trade, energy, health, security and law enforcement until the end of next year. He also commended the Iraqi leaders for reaching an agreement which will create “a national partnership government and ensure the first peaceful transition of power between elected governments under full Iraqi sovereignty.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said that in order for all sanctions to be lifted, Iraq must make efforts to agree a border with Kuwait and make war reparations of 5 per cent from its oil sale revenues to assist the neighbouring country with rebuilding itself post the 1990 Iraqi invasion.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said normalisation of relations with Kuwait is a priority for the new government, as Iraq is keen to make a fresh start after years of "sanctions caused by wars and misdeeds of the former regime."

Sources: BBC News, The New York Times, UN Dispatch, Arabian Business

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

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