The United States is pushing for a new United Nations resolution that would encourage more nations to send troops to help restore security to Iraq. The decision follows Tuesday's devastating suicide blast at the U.N. mission in Baghdad that killed more than 20 people.
Countries such as France and Germany which opposed the U.S. led war to topple Saddam Hussein - as well as India and some Middle East nations - have rejected U.S. requests to send troops to Iraq without the United Nations first sanctioning such a deployment.
After initially opposing the idea, because of concerns that a new U.N. resolution might give the world body a say in post-war military operations in Iraq, the Bush administration has now reversed course. Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations Thursday to begin lobbying other members of the Security Council for a resolution that would give U.N. backing to countries willing to send in additional troops.
"We're looking at, of course, reaffirming our determination to succeed in Iraq," he said. "We're looking forward to language that might call on member states to do more."
But both Mr. Powell and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan made clear the United Nations has no plans to send in any troops of its own, only that soldiers from individual nations wanting to contribute could do so under a new U.N. mandate.
"We have no intention of recommending U.N. blue helmets," Mr Annan said.
The Bush administration is insisting that any additional troops other countries decide to deploy to Iraq would fall under the command of the U.S.-led coalition. Right now, about 140,000 American troops are in the country. It's not clear whether any additional troop deployments would be intended to increase that number or replace soldiers who have already seen their assignments in Iraq extended. Some experts within and outside the U.S. military have been urging the Pentagon to put more troops in the country, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insists enough are already on the ground.
On Thursday, the U.S. military announced the capture of Ali Hassan al-Majid, a former Iraqi official who once ran the country's armed forces and was nicknamed Chemical Ali for his role in the gassing of Iraqi Kurds in 1988.
Peter Galbraith is a former American ambassador with expertise on the Middle East. He spoke Wednesday about the role the Iraqi played during the Saddam Hussein years in Iraq.
"What Chemical Ali did was not just intended to terrorize the Kurds," he said. "He was almost the Josef Mengele of this operation. It was a deadly experiment to see which of these weapons was the most effective. He was a sadist, giving the orders for attacks and then basically boasting about it and clearly enjoying hearing reports of the consequences."
Ali Hassan al-Majid is also a cousin of Saddam Hussein and was number five on the coalition's list of most wanted Iraqi fugitives.