Iraq Crisis Has Damaged US International Standing: IISS Survey
Agence France Presse
Tuesday 13 May 2003
Washington's policy during the Iraq crisis has harmed its position on the world stage, the leading IISS international security think-tank said.
In its annual strategic survey, The International Institute for Strategic Studies also warned that the threat posed by the al-Qaeda network, blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, has not diminished.
"The Iraq crisis has clearly damaged the United States' world standing," the IISS said.
"Many of the US' allies and partners, and to an even greater extent their populations, perceive American leadership as dangerously arrogant in its exercise of the United States' superior military power," the report said.
"Europeans and others feared that a kind of risky idealism had come to dominate US foreign policy since September 11," it said.
IISS said that the stiffest challenges over Iraq were not military but the political difficulties that followed the war.
These difficulties were: transforming Iraq into a liberal democracy; finding a role for the UN; conflict-resolution between the Israelis and the Palestinians; finding a better accommodation between the West and Islam; and controlling the effect of the "war on terrorism."
The most immediate concern after the war was "rebuilding the international institutions that were so severely buffeted in the Iraq debate," IISS said.
While the international community must also concentrate on setting up a unified Iraq and ensuring stability in the Middle East, its broader preoccupation must be with the United Nations, the European Union and NATO, according to IISS.
"The key players in weakening these institutions were the US and France -- the leaders, respectively of the pro-war and anti-war camps. They too must be the prime movers of the reconstruction of the institutions," the report said.
While preemption led to splits between Europe and the US over Iraq, the argument for preempting terrorists who had no territory against which to retaliate was persuasive, IISS said.
The al-Qaeda network was "now reconstituted and doing business in a somewhat different manner, but more insidious and just as dangerous as as in its pre-11 September incarnation," the report said.
Although one third of its 30 senior leaders and 2,000 rank-and-file members had been killed or detained there was "a rump leadership intact and over 18,000 potential terrorists still at large, with recruitment continuing," IISS said.
"The group's leadership blended into the frenetic cities of Pakistan, Karachi in particular, where sympathisers abounded," the report said.
Hopes that attempts to establish a sustainable democracy in Afghanistan would prompt a shot in the arm for poverty alleviation and state-building in sub-Saharan Africa have not been realised, the strategic survey said.
"While relative calm in former hot spots like the Ethiopia/Eritrea border and Sierra Leone allowed major powers to stay on the sidelines in East and West Africa, respectively, deprivation and political decadence in Zimbabwe and an unexpectedly persistent insurgency in Cote D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) loomed as sources of instability that al-Qaeda could conceivably exploit," the survey said.
"South Africa and Nigeria -- the latter itself plagued by Muslim-Christian tensions -- still struggled to realise effective foreign policies that promised substantial improvements in security and stability," it said.
IISS reported mixed results in other parts of the world.
It said the Sri Lankan ceasefire and peace process continued to have encouraging resilience, and reported that the Indonesian government reached a welcome agreement with separatists in Aceh and other unstable areas of the country.
Nepal's communist insurgency was inching close to being tamed, the survey said, and the peace process in southern Sudan survived, but was bogged down by continual violations.