The United States may turn to the United Nations for a solution of the Iraq crisis, according to British newspaper The Guardian on Wednesday.
The Bush administration is developing plans to "internationalize" the Iraq crisis, including an expanded role for the United Nations, as a way of reducing overall U.S. responsibility for Iraq's future and limiting domestic political fallout from the war as the 2008 election season approaches, said the report.
The move comes amid rising concern in Washington that President George Bush's controversial Baghdad security surge, led by the U.S. commander, General David Petraeus, is not working and that Iran is winning the clandestine battle for the control of Iraq, said the report.
"Petraeus is brilliant. But he is the captain of a sinking ship," a former U.S. government official was quoted as saying.
"Iraq's government is a mobile phone number that doesn't answer. Iraq probably can't be fixed," he added, questioning whether Iraq's divided political leadership could prevent a descent into chaos.
Although sectarian killings have fallen in Baghdad since the security surge began in February, the level of violence across the country remains broadly unchanged. But the White House is fiercely resisting calls from Democrats and some Republicans to scrap the operation and set a timetable for a troop withdrawal.
According to the report, the U.S. plan is expected to call for expanded UN involvement in overseeing Iraq's full transition to a "normal democratic state", including an enhanced role for UN humanitarian agencies, the creation of a UN command, and possibly a Muslim-led peacekeeping force; increased involvement in Iraq policy making among UN permanent security council members, Japan and EU countries; a bigger support role for regional countries, notably Sunni Arab Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, and international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; renewed efforts to promote the Iraqi government's self-reliance, including attainment of national reconciliation "benchmarks"; and the accelerated removal of U.S. troops from frontline combat duties as the handover to Iraqi security forces, backed by an increased number of US advisers, proceeds.
Think tanks in Europe and the U.S. have recently also urged "international solutions" for Iraq, according to the report.
"An energetic international political effort with focused mediation under the auspices of the UN is required to complement military deployments to Iraq," said Carlos Pascual, of the Brookings Institution in Washington in a recent study of US options.
The UN agencies should become more closely engaged, he said.
The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) recently proposed the establishment of an "international support group" for Iraq comprising the five permanent members of the security council, Iraq's neighbors and the UN.
The ICG also called for the appointment of a special UN envoy to lead a national reconciliation process.