Ambassador Malone wraps up Middle East lecture series

Recent events in Fallujah, Iraq, have reiterated the resolution of Iraqi insurgents who continue to carry out indiscriminate attacks against U.S. military and civilian targets.

The U.S. military responded Wednesday by bombing a mosque, killing about 40 worshippers.

In an interview with CNN, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmit explained that the mosque is protected under the Geneva Convention, but said, “it can be attacked when there is a military necessity brought on by the fact that the enemy is storing weapons, using weapons, inciting violence and executing violence from its grounds.”

In a visit to the U on Tuesday, one day prior to the Abdul-Aziz al-Samarrai mosque battle, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations David Malone said, “You can’t wipe out all the perpetrators of political violence. We must address the reasons behind the violence.”

The distinguished speaker’s expertise on Middle Eastern issues was established when he grew up in Iran and visited his parents who lived in Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

He has also worked in the Middle East, but says he moved on to other endeavors in 1986 because the situation was too depressing.

“The situation today is better than it was during the Cold War,” Malone said. “There is more agreement in the Security Council, with the exception of a few issues.”

Malone specifically cited U.N. Security Council issues pertaining to Iraq (since 1996 and 1997), the Arab-Israeli conflict, Bosnia and Kosovo.

These four divisions are accompanied by dozens of other agreements that generally receive less publicity.

After addressing the state of the U.N., Malone proceeded to discuss the essential missing element in the path to settling Middle East conflicts: leadership.

He said the Arab-Israeli conflict brings the problem of scarce leadership skills to the limelight as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon needs the confrontation to remain in power and the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, may be swept away without it.

When the two leaders are faced with such dubious futures, it becomes clear how it may be in their best interest to fuel the turmoil between the Palestinians and Israelis.

“Leaders recoil from agreements that leave them in the unknown,” Malone said.

He did, however, applaud the efforts of the Geneva Accord, which seeks a nongovernmental bridge between Palestinian and Israeli societies.

Iraq feels the anguish of leadership deficiency as well.

While the Shiite majority population in Iraq has a leader in senior cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Sunni population has failed to produce a leader capable of representing their people.

“To avoid civil war, Iraqis must find Sunni leaders to negotiate for the community and speak with the Shiite leaders,” Malone said. “If there is a bloodbath in Iraq, the rest of the world won’t blame Iraq, they’ll blame the U.S.”

He says he believes President Bush should “think more than twice” about the June 30 deadline when sovereignty is set to be turned over to Iraqis.

“Iraqi politics are becoming more and more polarized and the United States can’t protect itself, so they are in no position to ask other countries to help,” Malone said.

“The U.N. can play a high-level advisory role to the Iraqi government, but they can’t take over.”

Malone has the responsibility to simultaneously work with and criticize the operations of the United Nations at his position as president of the International Peace Academy, a position he has held since 1998.

The IPA’s stated mission is to promote the prevention and settlement of armed conflicts between and within states through policy research and development.

The peace academy is a think tank, consisting of 32 individuals from 22 different nationalities, that works closely with, but remains independent of, the U.N. Security Council and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Annan has said that the academy has “unfailingly proven itself a stalwart ally. At once critic and friend, it has been invaluable in working with the U.N. to tackle essential tasks of reflection and redirection which we have had neither the means nor the manpower to address alone.”

In addition to Malone’s current position as IPA president, he teaches International Law at NYU and is about to go back to the Canadian foreign ministry.

Ambassador Malone was the ninth and final speaker in this semester’s internationally acclaimed Middle East Lecture Series “Learning from past failures: Pathways to peace in the Middle East.”

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