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Perspective on the Gulf Crisis : An Arab Plan Offers Hope

<i> Clovis Maksoud, former Arab League ambassador to the United Nations and the United States, is a visiting professor at the American University. </i>

Now taking place in the few days that separate us from the Jan. 15 deadline are disparate efforts--European, Arab, nonaligned--that must be synchronized in order to achieve a breakthrough for peace. Without a visible and assertive Arab component there cannot be a durable and credible solution.

The Arab plan must from the outset elicit from Iraq a firm undertaking to withdraw from Kuwait. This should bring an equally firm commitment by the United States and the foreign forces to withdraw from the gulf. A U.N.-Arab peacekeeping force should be deployed on the Iraq-Kuwait borders. The U.N. secretary general should be empowered to draw this peacekeeping force mainly from Arab states in a manner similar to what was done in the early 1960s, when a U.N. force drawn mainly from African states was sent to newly independent Zaire.

As for the uninhabited Bubiyan and Warba islands, the peacekeeping force must ensure both Kuwait’s sovereignty over them and Iraq’s access to their facilities. A similar case occurred in Sharm el Sheikh in 1956 when Israel withdrew from Egyptian territory.

Simultaneous with the deployment of this peacekeeping force, an adjudicating mechanism should be appointed by the president of the World Court to address and resolve all outstanding disputes and claims--those that prompted Iraq to invade, and the subsequent claims of suffering Kuwaitis, who would be morally and legally entitled to compensation.

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And, as President Francois Mitterrand has emphasized, a follow-up on all the remaining issues ravaging the Middle East must take place. With the more visible involvement of the secretary general this weekend, such a follow-up becomes more credible as a necessity rather than as a “linkage,” as perceived by President Bush.

Let us hope that in the coming few days cooler tempers will allow the many proposals for peace to be taken more seriously and studied more carefully, so that a “new world order” does not lead to regional anarchy.


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