This week’s decision to dismantle the UNSCOM lab in Baghdad represents only one minor skirmish in what is almost certain to be a long war. Although they have reportedly narrowed their differences somewhat, Security Council members are still divided over competing draft resolutions which would both establish a new arms monitoring system in Iraq and set the terms by which sanctions are to be lifted on Baghdad. The United States has indicated some support for a British-Dutch plan which makes the lifting of sanctions contingent upon a positive report by a new arms monitoring agency. It also envisions a gradual lifting of sanctions. Other plans, including one being circulated by Moscow, are considerably friendlier toward Baghdad, both in terms of the arms monitoring regimes they envisage and the manner in which they propose to lift sanctions (Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires, July 14).
Like the conflict in Yugoslavia, Moscow sees the ending of sanctions against Belgrade–and the halting of British and U.S. air strikes in the “no-fly” zones–as a pivotal international relations issue. Iraq offers Moscow yet another opportunity to try to rally international opposition to alleged U.S. “bullying” and to Washington’s more general domination of world affairs. Simultaneously, Moscow sees in Iraq–a Soviet-era ally–a vehicle to help reestablish Russian influence in the Persian Gulf and throughout the Middle East. More specifically still, Moscow sees in Iraq the opportunity to bring home lucrative profits. Russian agencies, particularly in the energy sector, have reportedly signed billions of dollars worth of contracts with their Iraqi counterparts. Those contracts can only be activated once UN sanctions against Iraq are lifted.
MEDIA MOST CHARGES THAT YELTSIN IS KEPT IN THE DARK.