Why the UN's Baghdad office was bombed

Issue 

BY DOUG LORIMER

The gushing tributes made by the warmakers in Washington, London and Canberra for the United Nations "special representative" in Iraq, Sergio Viera de Mello, provided an answer as to why Iraqi patriots would target the UN mission and its chief in their escalating guerrilla war against the US-led occupation of their country.

De Mello, along with 23 others, was killed when a truck bomb exploded directly under his office in Baghdad on August 19.

Describing de Mello as a "good friend", the US administrator of Iraq Paul Bremer told CNN's American Morning program the day after the bombing: "Whoever did this positioned the truck in a place that was quite clearly in front of his [de Mello's] office."

During a round-table discussion aired on the US Public Broadcasting Service's News Hour program on August 19, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times' foreign affairs columnist, described meeting de Mello at his offices in Baghdad a few days earlier. "One of the things I remember most about our conversation that really struck me was how complimentary he was to Paul Bremer", Friedman said, adding: "The two had worked together very well."

De Mello's appointment as UN special representative in Iraq flowed from UN Security Council resolution 1483. Approved 14-0 by the council's 15 members (Arab League member Syria abstained) on May 22, the resolution legitimised the US-led invasion of Iraq by anointing the US and Britain as the "occupying authorities" and authorised Washington to take over Iraq's oil industry.

According to Friedman, de Mello "made a point of saying that Bremer ... was really ready to listen to a lot of ideas that were coming from de Mello and the UN - one of the most important of which was the importance of getting Iraqis out front much more than we've done so far".

De Mello has been widely credited with persuading Bremer and his masters in Washington to set up the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) in order to provide an Iraqi front for the US-British Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

When Bremer introduced the 25 members of the IGC to the international media in Baghdad on July 13, de Mello sat alongside him. De Mello described the day as "historic" and said it was an important step in "returning sovereignty to the Iraqi people" - despite the fact that all of the IGC's members had been handpicked by Bremer and stacked out with former Iraqi exiles like convicted bank embezzler Ahmad Chalabi, who had provided most of the "intelligence" on Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction that Washington used to publicly justify invading the country.

Referring to himself and his deputy, former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salam, de Mello said "we have been very active in the process of creating the council".

This was confirmed by Salam, who told Agence France Presse that a few weeks after Bremer publicly proposed creating an "advisory council" made up of Iraqis willing to collaborate with the US-led CPA, the three of them had met to work out the details. Salam said that de Mello persuaded leading Iraqi Shiite clerics, who had declared their opposition to any unelected interim governing body, to participate in the Bremer's council of quislings.

When three IGC members were brought by the US to New York to as part of Washington's diplomatic effort to get the UN Security Council to recognise its IGC stooges as the embryo of a future Iraqi government, de Mello told the Security Council: "We now have an institution that, while not democratically elected, can be viewed as broadly representative of the various constituencies in Iraq. It means that we now have a formal body of senior and distinguished Iraqi counterparts, with credibility and authority, with whom we can chart the way forward."

It is undoubtedly not a coincidence that the Iraqi armed resistance movement targeted de Mello only a week after the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1500 "welcoming" Bremer's IGC stooges.

Contrary to the corporate media's almost unanimous claims that de Mello was a "man of peace" who was only administering "humanitarian aid" to Iraqis, in reality he was a cog in the oppressive machine of the US occupation of Iraq.

From Green Left Weekly, August 27, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.