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Iraq Tells UNSC It Invites Any State to Provide Aid, With Its Agreement, Confirmed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 9, updated -- As the US on August 8 announced complete of its second air-drop of aid to Sinjar Mountain in Iraq, Inner City Press is reliably and perhaps for now exclusively informed that Iraq has written to the UN Security Council invite any and all UN member states to deliver aid to areas controlled by Islamic State, with Iraq's agreement.

  And so the question arises -- what about aid from Iran? From Russia? From China -- which has told the Press of $4.9 million in medical supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for ebola?

  At the US State Department's briefing on August 8, much as made of Iraq inviting the US, and only the US, in . But now, would others including Iran be welcome? Shouldn't they be?

  Aid is needed, and not only in Sinjar.

Update of 10:18 am: Ten hours after publication of the above, Inner City Press asked the UK Mission, president of the Security Council for August, to confirm receipt of Iraq's letter. By email the Mission to its credit quickly responded, "Matthew, I can confirm the UNSC received a letter from the Perm Rep of Iraq that attached a resolution passed by the Parliament of the Republic of Iraq on 7 August, which calls on the UN and hum'n organisations to provide relief to refugees."

  We'll have more on this.

 Back on August 7 US President Barack Obama announced authorization for airstrikes on Iraq. Then three of his Senior Administration Officials (SAOs) held a 50 minute conference call with the press.

First, Inner City Press has reliably been informed that Iraq has only requested such military support from the US. This seem to leave France, which called for the Thursday evening meeting of the UN Security Council and said military action is indeed needed, out in the cold. (We note that France got invited to intervene in Mali, and the Central African Republic -- so there's that.)

On the White House background call, a SAO cited ISIL's “swift” moves Saturday, its “military proficiency,” and said the US coordinated with the Peshmerga. A SAO cited ISIL putting heads on spikes and enslaving women and said that on Sinjar mountain it's 120 degree F, in the day time.

A SAO said Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on August 7 with the foreign ministers of France, the UAE, Turkey and Jordan -- and cited the August 7 UN Security Council meeting (requested by France), see below.

On the military front, a SAO said that during the airdrop, planes were over the area for only 15 minutes, at low altitude (this was later formalized in a Department of Defense statement.)

A SAO confirms no airstrikes yet, but said the US stands ready. A SAO said this is authorized by the US Constitution, to protect US citizens for example in Erbil, also citing a “potential act of genocide”

(Given the numbers cited on Sinjar mountain, Inner City Press couldn't help wondering about 2009 when 40,000 people were cornered & killed in Sri Lanka.)

Finally, the SAOs were asked if President Obama is going to postpone his trip to Martha's Vineyard. A the UN one might ask if the UNSC still going to Belgium? The US SAO wouldn't answer on Martha's Vineyard, said Obama's day started early today with Ambassador Susan Rice, and later including John Kerry by video from Afghanistan -- this could be done on Martha's Vineyard. But what's the technology on the UN Security Council's planned trip? We hope to have more on this - watch this site.

Earlier on August 7 after 6:30 pm, Council president for August Mark Lyall Grant emerged to read a press statement, followed by question and answer stakeouts by French deputy Alexis Lamek and Iraqi Permanent Representative Alhakim.

  Inner City Press asked Lamek if France will take military action. While we'll await the French mission's transcript, Lamek eventually said "that needs to be done indeed."

  Inner City Press asked Alhakim about airdrops, if ISIL has anti-aircraft guns and if the dam has been taken over. This last, he denied, saying that ISIL does not control the dam.

Update: after those stakeouts, a senior US Department of Defense official told the press:

I can confirm that tonight, at the direction of the Commander in Chief, the U.S. military conducted a humanitarian assistance operation in Northern Iraq to air drop critical meals and water for thousands of Iraqi citizens threatened by ISIL near Sinjar. The mission was conducted by a number of U.S. military aircraft under the direction of U.S. Central Command. The aircraft that dropped the humanitarian supplies have now safely exited the immediate airspace over the drop area.”

  And shortly after that, US President Barack Obama announced he has authorized airstrikes. He took no questions.

  There is a draft resolution in the works, with UK Ambassador Lyall Grant saying that a new draft would be circulated later on August 7. The Security Council leaves on August 8 for a week-long trip to Europe and South Sudan and perhaps some other places for now undisclosed. Some wonder how they will keep up not only with Iraq (and the Levant) but also Gaza and conceivably Ukraine and other matters.

  In a statement from Baghdad, the UN mission UNAMI announced that “over the last 48 hours 200,000 civilians have fled the advance of ISIL, with at least 180,000 crossing into the Dohuk district of the Kurdistan Region.” UNAMI said “up to 200,000 predominantly Yazidi civilians becoming trapped on Jabal Sinjar in territory not controlled by ISIL.”

 Even before the Security Council turned from its regularly scheduled Darfur meeting to the urgent session on Iraq, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, not in the UN but "in New York" according to his public schedule, put out a statement calling on those with “resources to positively impact the situation to support the Government.”

 Did that mean air strikes?

On July 25 after the UN Security Council met behind closed doors with the Syria Commission of Inquiry's Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and Karen AbuZayd, the two Commissioners and UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant came to take questions from the press.

  Karen AbuZayd spoke of abuses not only by the government but also, in response to a question, by what she called the Islamic State of Iraq and [Syria], ISIL.

  Inner City Press when called on asked her about ISIS' takeover of border crossing, renaming as Islamic State and attacks on non-Sunni Muslims in Mosul.

In this context, what did she think of hers or another Commission of Inquiry covering the group's abuses in Iraq as well? Bigger picture, does the state by state focus of the UN make sense in this context?

  AbuZayd said she prefers not to call them “Islamic State,” it give them too much credit. Pinheiro resisted any talk of expanding his Commission's mandate -- Syria is enough.

  A US state media asked about foreign fighters, including pro-government; Pinheiro said that Hezbollah is the only group of foreign fighters he's away of.

 This is strange, given that the UN's own recent report on Syria humanitarian access notes that “on June 29, the Islamic State issued a statement announcing that the Caliphate included people from the following nationalities: Caucasian [sic], Indian, Chinese, Shami (Levantine), Iraqi, Yemeni, Egyptian, North African, American, French, German, and Australians." Watch this site.

Footnote: one wanted to ask AbuZayd about developments -- to put it mildly -- in Gaza, where she used to head UNRWA, but this too was deemed beyond the scope of the stakeout. Another former Gaza hand, John Ging, has been speaking on the topic this week. Perhaps we'll hear from Ms. AbuZayd. We'll be watching.


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