Tuesday, January 31, 2006

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It's quite the day for multilateralism

The U.S. scored two multilateral victories yesterday. First, the Quartet (the United States, European Union, Russian Federation, and the United Nations) issued a statement on the Palestinian elections:

[T]he Quartet concluded that it was inevitable that future assistance to any new government would be reviewed by donors against that government's commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap.

The Quartet calls upon the newly elected PLC to support the formation of a government committed to these principles as well as the rule of law, tolerance, reform and sound fiscal management.

Meanwhile, the permanent five members of the Security Council and the European Union adopted a common position on what to do with Iran for now. Kevin Sullivan and Dafna Linzer explain in the Washington Post:
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- along with Germany, agreed Monday night to report Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear program.

The decision, reached in London through a compromise with Russia and China, was a victory for the United States and its European allies, who had pressed for the matter to be sent to the council. But Russia and China were able to soften the agreement by stipulating that the Security Council not take up the matter until March. That gives Iran more time to comply with U.N. nuclear inspectors and avoid the threat of sanctions.

Still, a senior U.S. official said the announcement reflected "growing frustration" among all the parties over Iran's defiance of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog.

"I think Iran's on the defensive. Iran did not expect this," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Judging by Iran's reaction to the news, I think that's a safe estimate (here's a link to the formal statement by the P-5)

Readers are formally invited to speculate about which multilateral entreaty will work better. My money is on the Quartet -- they have far greater leverage in sanctioning the Palestinian Authority than the United Nations has over Iran. At thesame time, though, this FT story by Daniel Dombey , Harvey Morris and Roula Khalaf suggests the EU might buckle on Hamas before the Chinese and Russians do on Iran.

posted by Dan on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM


Can I speculate "neither"? Best case in Iran: IAEA refers Iran next month, and Russia and China agree to meaningless travel and cultural sanctions, which have no effect on Iran's nuclear plans.

Best case in Israel-Palestine? The quartet fails to turn over any of the aid. Iran and the Arab states step in, the Oslo process finally draws its last breath and we have a few ugly years before the Palestinians get a chance to reconsider their choice of Hamas.

I wish I could be more optimistic...

posted by: Contributor A on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM [permalink]

I agree. Hamas should say no and Iran can support them. I don't consider this bad. Let's hear it for realism in politics.

posted by: Lord on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM [permalink]

The prospect of EU caving in for financial help to Hamas is real.

About Iran - it is just matter of time when Bush Administration thinks it is okay to bomb to Iran sites based on:
- how profitable will be that in Nov Congress election; if Dems are running strong, what better way to refurbish hawkish credentials than bomb Iran;
- how will American Economy take $100 per barrel price of oil;
- how much Iraq is in control for this administration.

It is a see saw among these competing pressures on this Administration. But without some serious action from USA, it is unlikely that Iran will be tamed. Remember, it is USA only which is the stated enemy of Iran so it is USA only which has the maximum stake in this. Even if economic sanctions are applied - will it be the case like sanctions on S. Africa? Global economy has changed, China is a big player and it can find ways and means to cheat sanction system.

posted by: Umesh Patil on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM [permalink]

The threat of a coup or merely theft in Pakistan is probably greater than a nuclear Iran at this point.

posted by: Lord on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM [permalink]

Thw Quartet agreement language is exceedingly weak.

Assistance is "reviewed by donors against that government's commitment to the principles . . ."?

That's a loop hole big enough to drive a tank through.

posted by: Night Owl on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM [permalink]

The timing of the rioting about the 'Mohammed' cartoons is highly significant also.

The cartoons were published in September of 2005 and protested formally soon after. But the riots occur now, less than a week after Hamas won the election and the EU started making noises about revoking aid to a government committed to the destruction of another state.

So we get the riots and threats of European riots. That is a naked threat. I think the EU countries will cave in.....

posted by: Don Stadler on 01.31.06 at 10:09 AM [permalink]

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