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UN plays "good cop, bad cop" out of Baghdad hotel

This gives a small insight into the UN's work in Iraq: 

 BAGHDAD, Jan 30 (AFP) - The United Nations, from
 behind the barbed wire of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, has
 found itself playing the role of "good cop, bad cop" in
 disarming Iraq while working at the same time to ease the
 blow of economic sanctions on its people. 

 UN weapons inspectors at the centre of an on-off crisis
 since October over access to sites suspected of concealing
 banned weapons share the converted hotel with the UN
 coordinator's office for humanitarian aid. 

 "While the UN aid agencies send back alarming reports of
 rising malnutrition and that the 'oil-for-food' is not enough,
 the inspectors go from crisis to crisis over Iraq's level of
 cooperation," said a diplomat. 

 The diplomat, who asked not to be identified, said the
 Baghdad staff of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM)
 in charge of dismantling Iraq's proscribed weapons and their
 UN colleagues in aid work made "uncomfortable

 "The inspectors are regarded as 'spooks' by genuine UN
 officials, not only by the Iraqis. But we can't say anything,"
 said a Western aid worker who used to work out of the
 same hotel and did not want to be named. 

 But several UNSCOM inspectors, interviewed behind the
 doors of UNSCOM which are fitted with an electronic
 combination lock, denied any friction. 

 "We don't even see them. There's hardly any interaction
 except on the staircase," said Kevin O'Connell, a chief
 inspector in the hunt for germ warfare secrets who spoke
 with a North American accent but like the others refused to
 give his nationality. 

 Guenther Heinecken, a missiles expert on his third
 assignment in Baghdad, said there also no hostility from
 ordinary Iraqis even though UNSCOM's work holds the key
 to lifting the seven-year-old sanctions which have
 impoverished their country. 

 "People are polite. They wave to us and we wave back when
 we go out hunting for a pizza at night," said Alan Dacey, a
 27-year-old British diplomat on assignment as special
 assistant to the director of the UN arms monitoring centre at
 the hotel. 

 The inspectors, slammed as "agents of America" in public
 demonstrations, are easily recognizable in their white jeeps
 with UNSCOM emblazoned on the side. 

 Faced with charges that they show little sensitivity to and
 have no knowledge of the Arab culture in which they
 operate, most of the inspectors declined to comment. "I've
 learnt how to say marhaba (hello)," ventured O'Connell. 

 Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz last week slammed the
 "cops" of UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler who he said
 relied on forensics and suspicions rather than scientific

 A spokesman for the Special Commission, which denies
 Iraqi accusations it is dominated by Washington, said the
 charges were aimed at policy-makers in New York and not
 the inspectors in the field who simply follow orders. 

 Iraq maintains the United States is using UNSCOM to
 prolong sanctions, which have been in force since Iraq's
 1990 invasion of Kuwait and can not be lifted until the
 Special Commission certifies the elimination of Baghdad's
 weapons of mass destruction. 

 The inspectors at the Canal Hotel said they are paid living
 expenses by the United Nations while receiving their "normal
 salaries" from the governments which nominated them to
 UNSCOM. They are UN personnel only during the
 three-to-six month duration of their contracts before being

 While the arms inspectors steal the limelight, being filmed by
 foreign TV crews as they head out each morning, UN aid
 workers have been quietly filing reports which are expected
 to result in an increase of Iraqi revenues under the
 oil-for-food accord. 

 The deal, as it stands, authorizes Iraq to export two billion
 dollars worth of crude to finance imports of badly-needed
 food and medicine. Ironically for Iraq, it also pays for the
 work of UNSCOM. 

 The three-storey hotel, which is only used as offices and not
 for sleeping quarters, also houses the World Food
 Programme and members of the UN observer mission for
 the Iraq-Kuwait border. 

 Other agencies of the world body operating in Iraq are the
 World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, the
 children's fund UNICEF, the relief organisation for refugees,
 UNHCR, and the UN Development Programme. 

 They are eager to keep the humanitarian issue separate from
 the ongoing tension between Iraq and the United Nations
  over weapons inspections. 

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