SRSG Martin Kobler’s Remarks Stir Discontent Among Iraqis

United Nations Secretary General’s representative to Iraq, Martin Kobler
United Nations Secretary General’s representative to Iraq, Martin Kobler

United Nations Secretary General’s representative to Iraq, Martin Kobler

Stop Fundamentalism – Growing number of Iraqis are becoming wary and dissatisfied by the role the United Nations Secretary General’s representative, Martin Kobler is playing in Iraq, calling it partial and suspicious.

Kobler is specifically being criticized in recent days for remarks he made following his visit to Najaf meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani last Sunday about current surge of demonstrations and protests by Iraqi citizens throughout the country against corruption and severe violations of human rights.  The Protests have submerged the already in-trouble government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in even more crisis than before.

“There are realistic demands and other non-realistic demands for the demonstrators,” said Martin Kobler to a press conference following his discussions with Ali Sistani, reported Shafaq News on Sunday.

Kobler also pressed protesters to maintain peaceful nature of their demonstrations and “its legality.” That is while he admitted that demonstration is “a right guaranteed by the law and the Constitution, enacted for the people.”

The Iraqi Al-Iraqiya bloc issued a statement Monday questioning Martin Kobler’s impartiality with regards to anti-Maliki protests.  The bloc accused UNSG representative of giving in to demands of the al-Maliki government.

In its statement Al-Iraqiya also stated that “categorization of protester’s demands as being legal or illegal’ is a partial stance and is “unacceptable and in violation of international law.”  The bloc called on SRSG Martin Kobler to “remain neutral.”

Meanwhile, widespread demonstrations against policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki enter their third consecutive week.  Protesters demand a nationwide public amnesty and the release of women and children from Iraqi prisons.

At the same time, in an interview with Baghdad TV, Head of Iraqi Parliament Economy Commission, Ahmed Al-Avani, blasted Martin Kobler’s role in Iraq as destructive, calling him responsible for “Iraq being a ruin.”

Avani claimed he has documents showing that Kobler is supporting specific people and sides.  “We don’t believe his lies and his words have no value,” said Avani to Baghdad TV, Monday.  He stressed that he has information showing Kobler having contacts with “suspicious neighboring countries and political parties.”

Avani rejected that Kobler would be in a position “to decide which demands of demonstrators are according to the Constitution and which are not.”

Also, Chair of Iraqi Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Dr. Saleem Abdullah Al-Jabouri, in an interview with Arabic Television Al-Jazeera said, “The United Nations is present in Iraq and for a long time we have had reports of violations of human rights.”  He expressed suspicion that “the situation make us believe that the United Nations is in line with current policies of Iraqi government.”

In a statement released Monday, UK based Arab Human Rights Organization called on the UN Security Council to designate a committee to investigate what it called “severe violations of human rights committed by the Iraqi security apparatus against the Iraqi people.” Referring to the death of an Iraqi prisoner under torture in Baquba,  the organization stated that the prison took direct orders from the Prime Minister and considered Nour al-Maliki responsible for the prisoner’s death.

The organization says arbitrary arrests and torture in Iraqi prisons are practiced systematically and “hundreds have died as the result of vicious tortures,” in Iraqi prisons.