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Saleh calls at the World Leaders Forum to change the rhetoric from political competition to economic

Saleh calls at the World Leaders Forum to change the rhetoric from political competition to economic

Written by: saadin:September 27, 2019In: Iraq News , the most important newsNo comments

Alnoor News / Baghdad

President Barham Salih said Iraq has gone through 40 years of conflict, terrorism, mass graves and violent human rights violations, and has gone through difficult times that no other country has gone through for a long time.

“There is hope for a better Iraq after the military defeat of ISIS,” President Saleh said in a speech at the World Leaders Forum, organized by Columbia University in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Security is becoming more real, the economy is more active, and there is a growing sense of confidence among the Iraqi people. ”

"The future can be better despite the many challenges we face. There is a feeling that this country is moving in the right direction, and there is a path of hope and positive developments," the president said.

The President of the Republic stressed that “the defeat of ISIS was a great achievement, which could not have been achieved without the participation of Arabs, Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites and Christians, where they fought terrorism in one trench and with the support and support of the international coalition.” Not to allow it to return again or to use it as a tool that could be used against one country by another. ”

"We need to cherish, protect and preserve victory, and there must be a continuation of the victory achieved, not just defeating ISIL's regional and military defeats."

Saleh pointed out, "We need fundamental economic reforms to enable the private sector and make sure that Iraq has jobs," pointing out that "extremism comes from the collapse of services and education systems, health, and lack of employment opportunities for young people, overcoming the legacy of war and the obstacle of corruption is A key issue and important for the advancement of these societies. ”

“If we are able to shift the rhetoric from this debate and political competition towards economic competition, I think the Middle East will be in a much better place,” he said. Infrastructure, railways, highways, airports, industrial areas, and educational centers. ”

The President stressed that "because of its geography and its composition of Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen and Yazidis, is the place where the basic communities meet in order to promote security, stability and peace."

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Everyone wants to jump the donkey on, this or that happening, and how it might affect a possible RV...


In that spirit feel free to watch Iraq address the UN Live today.....they will be the last to speak.....on a Friday.....end of the news cycle......and of course buried by all the impeachment if you never knows?????      CL






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Saleh: Iraq is going through a phase of change based on economic recovery

2019-09-27 | 16:37
Saleh: Iraq is going through a phase of change based on economic recovery

President Barham Saleh said Friday that Iraq is undergoing a phase of change based on economic recovery and building bridges of cooperation with all countries in the region and the world.

Saleh said during an interview with a group of prominent researchers and experts on Iraq in the Council on Foreign Relations, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, that "economic integration in the region reduces the chances of the return of terrorism again," noting that "building economic relations is the best solution to build relations "It is a political policy that serves our peoples, achieves national interests and consolidates regional and international stability and security."
"The Iraqis have won big victories against terrorism, and they want to preserve them," he said. "The victory was real but incomplete and requires international support to promote stability in the region."
He expressed the hope that "Iraq will become a meeting point for neighboring countries and the world away from conflicts."


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Iraqi president gives priority to job opportunities for youth, calls corruption 'political economy of conflict'

 September 28, 2019
Article Summary
Iraqi President Barham Salih, in an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor, says that in the present climate "talking about another war is just madness."

Iraqi President Barham Salih is considering convening a meeting of Iraq’s neighbors, beginning with a focus on a “common regional interest” in Iraq’s stability and economic prosperity.

“We do want to have a conversation in Baghdad starting with a focus on what is a major point of agreement, Iraq’s stability and prospects for prosperity and economic regeneration, which is a common regional interest,” Salih said in an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. “We hope this will be an important confidence-building measure, and it could be an opportunity, a catalyst for a wider regional arrangement.”

Salih, who became president in October 2018, stressed the urgency of the crisis of unemployment, both in Iraq and throughout the region.

“We also should share an abiding interest in creating job opportunities for our legions of unemployed youth,” said Salih. “This matter cannot go on like this.”


“Iraq today is 38 million people,” he continued. “Almost 70% is below the age of 30, and quite a significant part of this population is young, unable to find meaningful jobs. … We have 307,000 graduates in Iraq that are unemployed. To me, this is a priority. So to be diverted from the real mission of regenerating our economies and providing job opportunities for our young, for reforming our education sector, our health sector, and being diverted away by talking about another war is just madness.”

In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Salih stressed the challenge of corruption, which he labeled the “political economy of conflict.“

“There needs to be an international coalition to deal with the issue of corruption and terrorism financing,” he said. “It is truly as important as the military campaign.”

Commenting on his recent meetings with the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil, Salih said, “The ambience of the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad is quite good.”

“I personally am of the opinion that we need to end this yearly cycle of negotiations and renegotiations about budget ramifications, and we need to come to a strategic understanding about renegotiating for all Iraqis, including the Kurdistan region,” he said. “There is some impetus for that sort of resolution. I don't want to be too optimistic because of the impediments along the way, but this will be good for Kurdistan and good for the rest of Iraq, for Basra and Samarra and Mosul, and we really need to move on and move beyond the impasses of the past.”

“With the present constellation of leaders, both in Baghdad and [the] KRG, we may have a good opportunity to seize it and make it,” he said.

Salih and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi will soon introduce a draft law to the parliament that will stipulate that 5% of Iraqi government revenues will be devoted to major reconstruction projects.

"This is important to regenerating the economy within Iraq,” he said, but also for the region.

“Iraq's geopolitics, which has been a tough issue for Iraq, in a way was condemned to the geopolitics, but if we turn it around and look at them now, it could be a bridge for the transit of goods, people and services across the Middle East. That is what we hope to achieve through reconstruction commission. That is a priority for us.”


The interview was conducted by Al-Monitor President Andrew Parasiliti. A lightly edited transcript of the full interview follows


Al-Monitor:  In your speech to the General Assembly, you said that terrorism and corruption are two faces of the same coin. Talk a little about that.

Salih:  Corruption is the political economy of conflict. It sustains conflict. It causes social instability and discontent which are incubators for extremism. In many ways terrorism cannot be sustained without funding and financing. So, as important as the military response to terror is the task of drying up terrorist financing, which often comes from illicit trade, from corruption within the political systems, corruption within the security systems, and essentially sustains, deepens the cycle of terror, instability — it becomes a self-sustaining cycle feeding upon itself. This cycle needs to be broken.

Corrupt elites need instability, need crisis, thrive on crisis, and in one shape or form, they need the terrorist threat to justify their rule and stealing more money. So this is one way of looking at it.

And I said in my speech to the UNGA, while the world confronted ISIS terrorism through setting up an international military coalition, there needs to be an international coalition to deal with the issue of corruption and terrorism financing. It is truly as important as the military campaign.

Al-Monitor:  You met with US President Donald Trump. How was the meeting, and what is your top priority now in relations with the United States?

Salih:  It was, I believe, a good meeting, a cordial meeting, but also frank. As President Trump mentioned, US-Iraq bilateral relations are important but complicated — complicated by the realities of conflict and war, and also by the dynamics of the region. Nevertheless, Iraq is emphatic about developing its relations with the United States. This is an important bilateral relationship — an important partnership. The meeting was an opportunity to emphasize that and also to present to President Trump our priorities in Iraq for economic regeneration and also affirming that Iraq's sovereignty, Iraq's stability is not caught in the regional crosscurrents sweeping across our neighborhood. And we had a good conversation.

Al-Monitor:  You said at the UN, "We expect our neighbors and the international community not to make Iraq pay for their own disagreements and conflicts," but tensions between the US and Iran play out in Iraq. The Iranian ambassador to Iraq said today that if the US attacked Iraq, Iran would attack US targets in Iraq. How are you managing those relations with Washington and Tehran?

Salih:  It's tough, difficult, and we live in the heart of the Middle East. We are undeniably affected by these dynamics. To start with we must all work to avert war — and must work to defuse the rising tensions. We do not need another war in the Middle East. I've not seen the statement attributed to the Iranian ambassador. If this were to be true, it will be unacceptable, inappropriate and is surely contrary to stated Iranian policy of respecting Iraq’s sovereignty and our common interests. The US and other coalition forces present in Iraq are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government and its mission is specifically, exclusively defined to helping Iraqi security forces in the war against terror.

Iran is an important neighbor of ours and we are adamant to developing our bilateral relations based on shared interests and respecting sovereignty. We in Iraq do not want to see another war. We do not want harm to come to any of our neighbors, including to Iran. Iran is, again, an important neighbor for Iraq, has helped us in the war against terror, and its stability and its interests matter to us. We have been adamant that our territory will not be used to harm any of our neighbors. This is also constitutional obligation for Iraq. We expect our neighbors also to look at Iraqi interests and Iraqi stability and Iraqi sovereignty in the same way.

Al-Monitor:  Did you discuss the Popular Mobilization Units [PMU], and was there any reference to the recent missile attacks which landed near the US Embassy?

Salih:  In a conversation with President Trump, we had wide-ranging conversation. Let me not go into details and specifics, but it was a good conversation, cordial and candid.

Al-Monitor:  On Sept. 21, Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi dismissed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis as deputy head of the PMU. Has that become an issue in your relationship with Iran?

Salih:  This is not about dismissing Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. It is about restructuring the Iraqi PMU, the Hashid al-Shaabi. This is following from the decision of the prime minister, the commander in chief, a decree by which it brings Hashid al-Shaabi units under the command of the state in accordance with the law that was passed in parliament a couple of years ago and is part of the reorganization and integration of the security services. This is a sovereign Iraqi decision, this is a matter for the commander in chief, for our government.

Al-Monitor:  Tell me about your meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Did he express concerns about Iraq's relationship with the United States?

Salih:  No he did not. We as always had a thorough conversation, focused on regional dynamics and our bilateral relation which both sides are keen to enhance and develop fully for the benefit of both people.

Al-Monitor:  Did he mention his new Regional Security Initiative, which he brought up in his UN speech, and is that something Iraq would consider supporting?

Salih:  We need to say we will be looking at a range of ideas and proposals that are coming through the region. As stated before, we are at the moment also thinking of convening in Baghdad a meeting of the neighbors of Iraq.

Interestingly, the neighbors of Iraq, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Kuwait, almost all are identical in stating their support for Iraq's stability, for supporting Iraq to accomplish the mission of eradicating the threat of ISIS terrorism, and to helping us preserve, sustain the hard-won stability that we have in Iraq. Our neighbors, each from a different vantage point, are stating their interest in that. We do want to have a conversation in Baghdad starting with a focus on what is a major point of agreement, Iraq’s stability and prospects for prosperity and economic regeneration, which is a common regional interest. We hope this will be an important confidence-building measure, and it could be an opportunity, a catalyst for a wider regional arrangement.

Basically, what we have had over the past, at least four decades, Iraq was the domain in which the regional actors have fought their way through, to the detriment of Iraq but also to the detriment of the region and the wider world.

There is an opportunity to turn these dynamics around. … Can we really make Iraq the hub? Can we make Iraq the bridge? Can we make Iraq a common interest for the neighbors and really move beyond the state of regional politics that we have been accustomed to in the Middle East? It will be a challenge, a tough challenge, but also a historic opportunity.

I have been saying and continue to say the Middle East remains probably the last broken region in the world. Europe went through the same. Latin America, East Asia, many other regions of the world, these major problems of those regions were fixed through creating interdependencies, economic integration. I do say Iran and Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait, Syria in some ways, we all share an abiding interest of combatting these terrorist groups and making sure they cannot wreak havoc with our societies.

We also should share an abiding interest in creating job opportunities for our legions of unemployed youths. This matter cannot go on like this. It simply cannot go on like this. Look at that in statistics — Iraq today is 38 million people. Almost 70% is below the age of 30, and quite a significant part of this population is young, unable to find meaningful jobs.

We have 307,000 graduates in Iraq that are unemployed. To me, this is a priority. So to be diverted from the real mission of regenerating our economies and providing job opportunities for our young, for reforming our education sector, our health sector, and being diverted away talking about another war is just madness. The Middle East does not need another war, especially as the last war is yet to be definitively over.

Al-Monitor:  You were recently in Erbil, and you met with Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, President Nechirvan Barzani and Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. What progress was made on the outstanding issues in Baghdad-Erbil relations — oil revenue, budget, discrete territories? And what more needs to be done?

Salih:  I think the ambience of the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad is quite good. Adel Abdul Mahdi, the prime minister, and many of the present political leadership of Iraq have good appreciation and understanding of the dynamics of Kurdistan. Everything I heard from officials in Erbil was a commitment to implementing the Iraqi Constitution, but obviously, there are differing interpretations.

I personally am of the opinion that we need to end this yearly cycle of negotiations and renegotiations about budget ramifications, and we need to come to a strategic understanding about renegotiating for all Iraqis, including the Kurdistan region. There is some impetus for that sort of resolution. I don't want to be too optimistic because of the impediments along the way, but this will be good for Kurdistan and good for the rest of Iraq, for Basra and Samarra and Mosul, and we really need to move on and move beyond the impasses of the past.

With the present constellation of leaders, both in Baghdad and the KRG, we may have a good opportunity to seize it and make it.

Al-Monitor:  That's all I had, unless you want to add anything else.

Salih:  Would you like me to talk about the reconstruction commission?

Al-Monitor:  Yes, please.

Salih:  The prime minister and I will be cosponsoring a draft legislation to parliament to set a reconstruction commission. This is, in some ways, reminiscent of the 1950s monarchy when Iraq was devoting part of its oil revenues to major infrastructure work.

Iraq needs major investment in infrastructure. According to this draft law that will be submitted to parliament soon, 5% of the Iraqi revenues will be devoted to this fund, focused on major reconstruction work like highways and railway networks, port facilities, airports, industrial zones, major housing projects, with the idea of providing a truly streamlined process that bypasses the impediment of the present-day bureaucracy of the Iraqi government, and enable foreign direct investment, private sector investment in profitable projects that could be developing the infrastructure needed, provide the job opportunities for the Iraqi youth. This is important to regenerating the economy within Iraq, but also potentially this could also mean the transregional projects to bring about economic integration.

Iraq's geopolitics, which has been a tough issue for Iraq, in a way was condemned to the geopolitics, but if we turn it around and look at them now, it could be a bridge for the transit of goods, people and services across the Middle East. That is what we hope to achieve through a reconstruction commission. That is a priority for us.”





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The Chairman of the Finance Committee receives a delegation from UNDB

The Chairman of the Finance Committee MP Dr. Haitham al-Jubouri on Sunday 29/9/2019 a delegation from the United Nations Development Program in Iraq (UNDB) for the purpose of discussing the preparation of the budget for 2020.
At the beginning of the meeting held at the headquarters of the Finance Committee welcomed d. Jubouri, the delegation of the Organization and listened to their views and views on the budget preparation plan and the support that can be provided to the Finance Committee in this regard.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee that the Committee is involved with the relevant authorities in the first steps to prepare the budget through a subcommittee charged with this and then continue to work tirelessly when the budget reaches the House of Representatives, where many meetings are held with ministries and institutions to discuss their plans and projects and identify important priorities for each.
He added d. Al-Jubouri said that the education and health sectors have the utmost importance in the budget as well as the governorates, which are constantly seeking to obtain their entitlements to implement their reluctant projects and to initiate new productive service projects such as hospitals and schools, in addition to allocating sufficient amounts to the liberated cities and upgrading their infrastructure.
The Chairman of the Committee that the Finance Committee is pursuing a new strategy, depending on that each Iraqi dinar should reflect to the production and economic feasibility of the benefit of the people of the country and not for the purpose of consumption only, as well as to make transfers for the purpose of establishing major projects such as the completion of the construction of the large port of Faw.
Information Service
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A Conversation With Barham Salih

Friday, September 27, 2019
Barham Salih

President, Iraq


Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School; Member, Board of Directors, Council on Foreign Relations

President Barham Salih discusses the challenges facing Iraq, its role in the region, and its relationship with the United States.

O’SULLIVAN: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations and to our meeting with the president of Iraq, Barham Salih. I’m Meghan O’Sullivan. I am a member of the Council and a new board member of the organization.

And it is my pleasure to introduce President Barham Salih to you. Many people in this room, I know, know Barham Salih quite well, and so they can attest to his commitment to Iraq and to his long history of public service. He has served Iraq in many, many different capacities, from being deputy prime minister during the first Iraqi government after Saddam up until being prime minister of Kurdistan, and then subsequently his current job as president of Iraq. You’ll also know President Salih as one of the most articulate voices for the Iraqi people and a very important interlocutor with the international community. And this is largely, I’d say, a reflection of his inherent optimism and his problem-solving nature.

President Salih also is known as one of the people who have been—who has been able to rise above the sectarian and ethnic strife and the identities that have often characterized post-Iraq—or post-Saddam Iraqi politics. And there are many manifestations of this, and I would say the one that I remember most vividly is going to his house in the summer of 2007. This was a moment when Iraq was in the Asian Cup finals for soccer and was playing Saudi Arabia, ultimately winning the Asian Cup finals, and President Salih had a gathering in his house. This was 2007, a period of intense political polarization and violence in Iraq. And when I arrived, I was surprised to find people from all walks of the political spectrum. There were Sadrists. There were Shia Islamists. There were secular Kurds. There were Sunnis. This, of course, is a little bit a reflection of the game of soccer, but I’d say it is a greater testimony to the man who’s now president of Iraq.

So I’d like to welcome His Excellency Barham Salih to the podium. (Applause.)

SALIH: Thank you, Meghan. Thank you for this wonderful introduction, and it’s truly an honor to be back at the Council on Foreign Relations.

I used to visit the Council in the past quite frequently, and I want to pay tribute to Les Gelb, who used to be president before my good friend Richard Haass, and who passed away—a man of great vision and commitment to a better Middle East.

I’m here today, and also having the opportunity of seeing many friends whom I have not been in touch for a while. Things have been quite busy in my part of the world. But nevertheless, it’s wonderful seeing many familiar faces in this crowd today.

I’m here to attend the United Nations General Assembly, leading the Iraqi delegation, and to present to the world a status report about Iraq and about our vision for the future of our country.

Many of you who have been dealing with the Iraqi situation and have been help in the cause of the Iraqi people to overcome the tyranny of Saddam Hussein must have been disappointed, pained, by the difficulties of transition and the many setbacks that we have suffered over the years. Certainly Iraqis were pained, were disappointed, and were hoping for much better and much quicker transition.

To put things in context, Iraq has been in a state of conflict for the past four decades, at least for the past four decades, probably a lot longer. But from the onset of the Iraq-Iran war, the invasion of Kuwait, the sanctions, 2003 upheavals, the onslaught of terrorism, not to mention the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and the war of genocide that he has committed and the mass graves to which many, many Iraqis were condemned across the country are but a few highlights of the difficult years that Iraqis have endured. Probably no other country in the world have gone through such extended and profound conflict. And therefore, we need to assess the status of Iraq, the situation in Iraq, in that context.

Today we are, I believe, at a turning point in Iraq, potentially a historic turning point. The defeat of ISIS is a remarkable achievement. It’s a significant achievement. And I want to remind this august audience that a few years back ISIS was in control of at least one third of Iraqi territory. There were moments of despair that ISIS was about to sweep through Baghdad. And today Iraq is largely free from ISIS.

This has been an epic struggle. Iraqis were in the forefront of that battle against the evil of ISIS and terrorism. We were able to achieve this important victory with the help of the international community and the international coalition, led by the United States, a help and an assistance for which we are very grateful.

But I want to also say the military defeat of ISIS, the territorial defeat of ISIS, is significant, is serious, is tangible, is to be celebrated, is to be recognized, not to be underestimated. But at the same time, I have to emphasize mission is yet to be accomplished. And we have seen this movie before where we fall complacent after the territorial or military defeat of an insurgency or a terrorist onslaught, only to be rudely awakened later on with another manifestation, another mutant of this terrorist and extremist problem that is still around us in the Middle East.

There are remnants of ISIS, probably in excess of ten thousand people, between Syria and Iraq that need to be taken care of and needs to be pursued through security and military operations, which we are doing. But there is also, more dangerously, many places in Syria and elsewhere across the Middle East which harbor terrorists. I call them the Tora Boras of the Middle East, not to be complacent about it. And some of these groups that are being harbored in these Tora Boras are really nothing but variations of al-Qaida and ISIS, and we need to be careful.

There is also the fundamental factors that lead to the rise of extremism and make our young people prey to extremist ideology and the terrorist organizations—unemployment, broken education systems, IDP camps, people who have not gone back to their homes. These are all incubating environments for the kind of terrorist and extremist groups, and we need to be very careful about those. Obviously, Iraq has a long way to go before we can address some of these fundamental problems through economic regeneration and creating job opportunities for our population.

There is another factor, a fundamental factor. The broken region of the Middle East—the rivalries, the regional rivalries between the various actors in the Middle East have often produced cracks in the system. These cracks extremist organizations and terrorist organizations have been able to go through and manipulate to their advantage. This is also a major, major problem.

Iraq is in the heart of the Islamic Middle East. Mesopotamia has often been the place where the regional order is defined, for millennia. So the outcome of the struggle in Iraq is of consequence not only to the Iraqi people, but I daresay to the wider Middle East as well as to the world.

What are we doing about those?

But before I come to that, I want to say perhaps the last few months, the last year or two, Iraq’s stability is real, tangible. Iraq’s self-assurance and self-confidence is real, is getting stronger. Sectarian and ethnic politics is becoming less relevant to our political discourse. These are important indicators of a positive story that is emerging from Iraq. And the very fact that these days we do not have Iraq in the headlines as much as they used to be perhaps is quite a statement that things in Iraq are going in the right direction.

My description of our situation today, that the situation in Iraq is not good, Iraqis deserve far better than what we have today. But in no doubt the situation in Iraq is getting better. There is no denying that the status of Baghdad today is far better than what it was a year ago or two years ago.

I was with a former American ambassador who served in Baghdad for an extensive period and we were talking about the situation of Iraq today, much of Iraq today, and he agreed with me that this would have been celebrated as a major success and the United States would have recognized it as an American success. But somehow, this is lost on people. I know the reasons. Perhaps good stories are not capturing attention as bad news. But also, I know the dynamics of U.S. foreign policy and the priorities, and perhaps the fatigue that people have about Iraq, and now the focus on the Iran dynamics and other issues that is diverting attention from this emerging reality of Iraq.

I say to you, ladies and gentlemen—and this is a very important group of foreign policy experts, friends of Iraq and the Middle East—the success in Iraq is real, tangible, but very, very fragile. And we need to nurture it, to protect it, to make sure it is not squandered.

What should we do about it? The major onus is on us as Iraqi leaders, as the Iraqi state, as the Iraqi government. We have an ambitious plan in order to turn this corner and really push Iraq in a positive trajectory, and really instead of Iraq becoming—being condemned to this cycle of instability and being a place where regional actors fight their wars and through proxies, often with our own money and with our own lives, we want to turn it into a hub, a bridge between the actors of the neighborhood.

This is easier said than done. I do say that the Middle East is a broken region. Like much of Europe, it was in the early part of the twentieth century—East Asia, Latin America, many other parts of the world that were fixed through a number of initiatives and creating interdependencies that overcome political differences. I would say the difficulties of Iraq and the potential of Iraq could be turned around for the sake of the Iraqi people, but also for the wider Middle East.

Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, a friend and an economist, a reformist, is keen on helping regenerate Iraq’s economy because I—in my meeting with President Trump two or three days ago I told him, like the United States, we in Iraq also need jobs, jobs, jobs for our kids. We are a rich country. We have huge resources. But we also have huge needs. With good leadership, with good governance, we can combine these two into creating possibly one of the largest emerging markets across the world. To this end, the prime minister and I are co-sponsoring legislation in the Iraqi parliament, hopefully it will be submitted very soon, to set up a construction commission. And I can go on and on talking about this vision. It’s somehow simple. We’re creating a construction fund. Five percent—we’re proposing that 5 percent of Iraqi revenues will be put into this fund every year. And we’ll create a structure led by the government, led by the prime minister, with independent commissioners to implement major infrastructure work.

Imagine, ladies and gentlemen, deport facilities in Basra. Imagine railway systems connecting Basra to the Turkish borders and connecting to Europe. Imagine highway systems and networks, airports that will be partly funded by the Iraqi treasury, but open to investment from equity funds, sovereign funds from across the world, utilizing streamlined operations to enable the implementation of these projects. I understand that Iraqi bureaucracy is problematic. It is painful. And what we have devised in accordance with this legislation, or draft legislation, is to really bypass some of these impediments to enable international investment to come in to work on these mega projects, infrastructure work.

And this can be within Iraq, of course, initially, but ultimately could help bring the region together. We’re working with our neighbors. We’re working with the Jordanians, with the Egyptians, with our Gulf neighbors, with the Saudis, with the Kuwaitis, with Iran, with Turkey to really developing a better interconnectivity and interdependency between the nations of that part of the world. We genuinely want to give our neighbors a stake in the stability of our country instead of everybody fighting their way through some outdated, outmoded notions of conflict and regional rivalry. Let us really work and focus on what is important. Iraq today is home to thirty-eight million people. Almost seventy percent of our population is below the age of thirty. Youth unemployment is a real political, social, and security challenge.

And we simply cannot go on like this. That is applicable to other nations in our neighborhood with the huge resources that we have. With the population that is talented and entrepreneurial that we have, my hope that we can turn the corner and really turn Iraq from an icon of instability, war, repression into something a lot better. I know it’s difficult. I know it is—many of you would think this is pie in the sky. It’s definitely a dream. But we have the determination to pursue it. And I certainly look to our friends in the United States and in this room to be helpful to us as we try to achieve that basic right for our people. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

O’SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. President.

I thought we could have a little bit of a conversation before we open it up to our members. I’m sure they have many questions for you as well. I’d like to start with the region, in fact, and reference the piece that you wrote in the Wall Street Journal right before coming here to New York this week. And you talked about the reforms that Iraq needs to undertake. But you also put forward a bigger idea about a new regional alliance that could solve many of the problems plaguing the region, beyond Iraq, a lot of the regional ills. And you mentioned—in a short piece, you mentioned the need to build bridges on more than one occasion. And you didn’t say this explicitly, but I was left with the strong impression that you were perhaps suggesting that Iraq could be one of these bridge builders. You called for these countries to meet in Baghdad to discuss a new framework.

So are you thinking of Iraq as a bridge builder in the region and more specifically, do you see Iraq having a role in bridging perhaps the biggest divide between your two big neighbors of Iran and Saudi Arabia?

SALIH: Yes, in short. And look at Iraq’s geography. And this is the reality of Iraq. We have Turkey, Iran as major neighbors. We have Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and of course Syria as neighbors. And this has—this makes life difficult for us. It’s a complicated story, and at the end of the day also presents an opportunity.

When we talk to our neighbors—and I personally talk to them—yesterday the prime minister was—the day before yesterday I was in Saudi Arabia. I was with President Erdoğan and President Rouhani and with the emir of Kuwait, with the king of Jordan here in New York. Everybody is emphatic the need to supporting Iraqi stability, the need to see the fight against ISIS through and to make sure that ISIS does not come back.

So there is, I believe, a certain area of common interest between the neighbors of Iraq from the fringe angles, emanating from different perspectives, that they need Iraq. They want to see Iraq’s stability in one form or the other.

What we’re suggesting, despite the many differences between some of these actors, they can convene in Baghdad. Let’s start the conversation by talking about Iraq, by talking about Iraq’s stability, by talking about the need to making sure that ISIS does not come back, also to talk about what I just mentioned, about this reconstruction of Iraq and the reconstruction of infrastructure across the neighborhood. These are issues that we can start the conversation on in Baghdad, and we’re working on convening this meeting in Baghdad before long.

And in that context, I want to refer to a meeting that took place about three months ago. All the speakers of parliament, the Turkish speaker, the Iranian speaker—or the deputy speaker came at the time—the Kuwaiti, the Saudi, the Jordanian and the Syrian all met in Baghdad and talked about the need to supporting Iraq’s stability and prosperity.

O'SULLIVAN: So Iraq might be the first step into a—

SALIH: Indeed.

O'SULLIVAN: —a broader regional conversation.

SALIH: That is what we hope. We need to start the conversation. One of the problems in the Middle East today, in this neighborhood in particular, everybody’s talking across each other, all telling us Iraq is important to us, the stability of Iraq matters to us. If that is the case, please come and convene in Baghdad and let’s have a conversation, starting with Iraq, talking about Iraq as a common subject.

And by the way, this happened in 2007-8 as well. At the time, the Americans were present as well. The neighbors plus, I think it was the P-5 or just the United States and the Europeans at the time, but there was a conversation like that. Obviously the situation is very different now, but I think if we were to do this now it will help defuse some of the tension in the region.

O'SULLIVAN: Great. Well, let me pivot to the United States. So I think one of the quiet takeaways of this week of gathering around the U.N. is that many countries are getting used to the idea of coming to terms with a less active, a less engaged United States. And maybe this is nowhere more obvious than in the Middle East where American policy seems to be very focused on Iran and Saudi Arabia and Israel, to perhaps the exclusion of some of the other challenges in the region.

Luke, how has this affected Iraq? And if I could be—push you on this bridge-builder question, do you see that Iraq could play a role in helping the United States in Iran bridge some of their differences, or is that a conversation you’d rather stay absolutely as far away from as you possibly could? (Laughter.)

SALIH: Well, I wish I could, but I don’t think it is advisable for Iraq to really push itself on the agenda of this conversation per se. I think it’s incumbent upon us, on the Iraqi leadership, to focus on the Iraqi stability and Iraqi interests, and in that context I would say bluntly, and I’ve said it to every world leader that we have met this week, is that the last thing the Middle East needs is another war, especially as the last war against terror is yet to be definitively over. And certainly war would be a disaster for everybody. And we know the implications for Iraq. And we don’t wish any of our neighbors ill, but seriously, we are focused on Iraq as a priority and Iraq’s reconstruction.

And I think I am speaking for the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people. We have had enough—forty years of conflict, and just not on—enough of wars in that neighborhood, especially talking about legions of young people seeking job opportunities. And this is not the time to really push this region into the abyss of another conflict.

O’SULLIVAN: OK. And on the point about the United States and its perceived or, in fact, its real withdrawal from the Middle East in military and other ways, how is that affecting Iraq? How is it affecting—

SALIH: Of course it is.

O’SULLIVAN: —your ability to be successful?

SALIH: I mean, obviously, I don’t interfere in the domestic affairs of the sovereign nation of the United States.

O’SULLIVAN: Of course you don’t.

SALIH: U.S. foreign policy is what it is, and we need to deal with it. We are adamant to build and develop our bilateral relationships. And the United States has been an important partner to Iraq in the war against terror. And in this next phase of what we hope to be the reconstruction of Iraq, we look for economic partnerships that can really benefit our people and benefit stability in the neighborhood. And we’re having an active dialogue with the U.S. policymakers, and we want to pursue that.

I mean, at the end of the day, this relationship has been, as President Trump has said, important but complicated relationships between Iraq and the United States. And I know the word complicated means you and I have gone through much of that relationship in the past and so on.

This needs to be managed well. The United States remains a very relevant and important power for the Middle East and the rest of the world, and we need to deal with the foreign policy as it comes. And we need, by the way, at the end of the day, to think of it from our own perspective.

I have always said that it is important to understand the importance of American power, but also understand its limitations as well for our part of the world. There is a lot that we, the people of that region, need to do and to create opportunities for our people. And I know that we can count on many, many friends here in the United States to be engaging us and helping us go through that.

O’SULLIVAN: And, in fact, your—you mentioned this idea of this reconstruction commission. And if that materializes, as I hope it will, there will be roles that could potentially be played by private-sector—

SALIH: Sure, of course.

O’SULLIVAN: —elements from the United States.

SALIH: Of course. Of course.

O’SULLIVAN: Let me dig down on that reconstruction piece a little bit. I mean, you were very open and very acknowledging of the fact that we’ve seen how extremist groups can take hold and upend things in Iraq in very dramatic ways. You know, I think there’s no one who’s more acutely aware of the mixture of exclusionary politics and core economic opportunities that helped contribute to the rise of al-Qaida, and then again to ISIS. And as you know, many of your close American friends are nervous about the emergence of an ISIS 3.0.

SALIH: Sure.

O’SULLIVAN: So could you say a little bit about what your government, what you personally are doing in relationship to Sunni politics in particular?

SALIH: In Sunni politics, I think, I mean, Sunnis have suffered a great deal from extremism and have suffered a great deal from the terrorist onslaught. Good story and bad story. Good story: If you go back to Anbar today, you’ll see a lot of reconstruction. A lot of the IDPs have gone back. And it’s remarkable what is happening in Anbar, the reconstruction, a lot through the initiative of the local government, obviously with the support of the federal government in Baghdad. But really Anbar has been quite a remarkable story.

O’SULLIVAN: And that’s a good-news story that we do not hear.

SALIH: Absolutely.


SALIH: But I want to admit also we have been very slow in the rebuilding of Mosul and the return of the IDPs to Mosul. This is an area where we really need to focus on.

I think anyone who might have thought for one day that this extremist group or that is a statement of opposition to the new political order in Iraq no longer can speak to the population, Sunni areas or any other area. People want to have a living. They want to build new schools. They want to live in peace and security.

But coming back to ISIS 2.0 or 3.0, whatever the term is, I mean, really what we’re talking about, the success, the territorial defeat of ISIS is significant, not to be underestimated. But in no way this is complete. And all the elements, you’re talking large numbers—relatively large numbers of ISIS remnants who are roaming the borders between Syria an Iraq. You’re talking about these areas in which extremist groups who are basic variations of al-Qaida or ISIS that are operating in many, many areas of Syria.

You have also, for example—ladies and gentlemen, this is a mammoth challenge that we have to deal with. You have the ISIS dependents, the women and children of ISIS, maybe seventy thousand people. And, obviously, we have ISIS detainees, and this is Guantanamo Bay multiplied by a thousand. And think of it. You are the United States of America, and the moral, legal, financial, security challenge you had to deal with dealing with that small number of people locked in Guantanamo Bay. Transpose that to Iraq, emerging from decades of conflict and having to deal with this problem—even though Al Hol camp now is in Syrian territory, but nevertheless it’s of consequence to Iraq.

So many people would like to basically kick the ball—the fireball into Iraqi laps, but we are aware of our own responsibilities and we will have to deal with them. But there is no way that this can be done by Iraq alone. This has to be a collective international responsibility. And the motto is we need to stay vigilant, we need to stay alert, and cannot be complacent. This is too precious, this victory, to let be squandered and to be revisited again. Requires sustained security collaboration and operations. Requires real focus on economic regeneration. Requires real focus on dealing with the legacy of ISIS, the ones I have described to you, not to mention the imperative of really fixing the Syria conflict.

This conflict has gone on for far too long. One million Syrian children—one million Syrian children born in refugee camps. Ladies and gentlemen, think of the statistics. Look at the number of extremist groups that are operating across Syria and are taking advantage of this conflict. The humanitarian costs of this conflict, the security implications of this conflict are huge. And one of the messages—and I’m talking from Iraqi perspective, but it’s also from a humanitarian, a human rights perspective—we need to really find a lot of effort in order to fix this thing. There are some good news on the constitutional committee that are being formed, but I hope this is not allowed to continue for much longer. This situation in Syria needs to be resolved.

O’SULLIVAN: Let me throw out a few numbers. So growth forecast for this year, 2.7 percent. Current account surplus, 19.6 percent of GDP. Inflation of 1.8 percent. Stable currency. I think if we weren’t in a meeting of Iraq, most people wouldn’t think I was referring to Iraq in throwing out those economic indicators. So Iraq’s economy is doing—is doing comparatively well.

But here’s my question. It seems that a lot of that economic growth and stability is because of historic levels of oil production in Iraq. Iraq is now producing 25 percent more than its peak previous—

SALIH: Don’t advertise that too much, please. (Laughter.)

O’SULLIVAN: Well, actually, there’s my question.

SALIH: Letting our OPEC—(laughs)—

O’SULLIVAN: There’s my question. You anticipated it. So on the one hand, you’re making all of this effort to improve your relationships with your neighbors. But on the other hand, a lot of your economic success is predicated on Iraq’s continued ability to bring more oil online at a time when the rest of your OPEC neighbors are doing the opposite in an effort to keep prices high. Is this a tension that you’re having to manage, or do you wish I had not asked this question? (Laughter.)

SALIH: Well, I wish you did not had asked the question, but still.

One other thing, as well. There is an effort to review the credit rating and upgrading the credit rating of Iraq, as well, as a reflection of the potential of Iraq and so on.

O’SULLIVAN: The improved economic—yeah.

SALIH: This is also positive.

Our minister of planning is here, who has perhaps a lot better numbers than I have. But it’s not all about oil.

Give you statistics. This year we were blessed with a lot of rain and record rainfall in Iraq this year. And I think the government did a good job in terms of managing the floods and having a good management policy on the excess water that this year we had. We had record levels of wheat production. The government immediately paid for buying back from the farmers. This was quite a stimulus to the economy moving in. As a consequence, I would say we also allowed—the government has allowed for release of water to do rice planting this year. Last year it was, like, 1,200 acres of land was planted with rice. This year, about one hundred and fifty thousand acres. And the reason is people are going to use it, the government is buying back. So there are lots of economic instruments that are being used in order to do this. There is quite an effort to revive the housing sector through mortgages and primary mortgage systems, et cetera and so on.

So, yes, oil production has been helpful, but also there is a lot of economic activity that are taking place. And we are working with our neighbors in setting up joint industrial zones and trade zones with the Jordanians, with the Kuwaitis, with the Saudis, and others for that matter. This—there is a growing sense in Iraq that economy is becoming a priority and people want to move beyond the conflicts of the past and really focus on economic regeneration. And remember what I say, and I’ll say it very simplistically, huge needs. Again, talking needs. Today Iraq needs twelve thousand new school buildings—today, OK? It’s huge. And our population is increasing by one million a year. So you can imagine the kind of needs the society has, this country has. But this is a country endowed with huge resources. Iraq is not a poor country. So resources and needs coming together with good governance, good leadership, it is a catalyst for a good emerging market. And this is what we want the story about Iraq to be.

O’SULLIVAN: Excellent. So I’m going to ask you one more thing before turning it over to our members.

SALIH: Please.

O’SULLIVAN: Often we don’t think about—when we’re looking at successes, we don’t necessarily count the things or the potential catastrophes that didn’t happen. But just two years ago this week there was the Kurdish referendum on independence. And that led to an uproar in Iraq and in the region. But now things seem to have settled down. I wondered if you could give us your perception on that. Is that accurate? Is there meeting of the minds? Have Kurdish ambitions changed? Or are there still fundamental gaps in the interests of Baghdad and Irbil?

SALIH: I think fair to say the ambiance is a lot better with Adil Abdul-Mahdi as prime minister, who has had longstanding relationships with Kurdish leadership. And the new polity of Iraq, and the new—the polity of Kurdistan have really—I would say there is much better understanding than before. We have still issues. I was in Irbil last week and had extensive conversations with all the Kurdish leaders, the prime minister, the president, and Mr. Masoud Barzani, and other Kurdish political leaders. And obviously a major issue how before us is the budget law. We have a conversation going on. Whether we will have yet another interim arrangement for a budget law for 2020, or to really look at a strategic solution for the issue of oil and revenues between Irbil and Baghdad.

I cannot underestimate the challenge. But I think if it can be done, this is the time to do it, because you can never have the constellation of leaders who understand the problem and who have a willingness to solve it. And I very much hope we do that. That is a moment. We need to seize it. That will be good for Iraq. That will be good for Kurdistan. And we hopefully move beyond this yearly battle about what is the budget allocation. And it is not—and he and I have worked on this on so many times, and people are tired of this. We need a solution.

O’SULLIVAN: It would be great to end that conversation.

SALIH: It will be a—end that conversation. And this really, at the end of the day, I hope the narrative changes from how many barrels is mine or how much of the budget is mine, or whoever—which province it is—into one to really being an active participant in the bigger pie, the ever-growing pie of Iraq’s economy, because that is potentially what it could become like.

O’SULLIVAN: Great. Well, thank you.

Let me turn to the membership. And I—just please let me know if you’re interested in asking a question. Please identify yourself, and keep your question short.

Yes, please.

Q: Doron Weber, Sloan Foundation. Thank you, first, for your thoughtful remarks.

I’m curious what you feel comfortable telling us about reports that Israel bombed Iranian forces, alleged Iranian forces, in Iraq, which Israel claimed were either planning to transfer arms via Syria or to use as a launching pad for attacks against them.

SALIH: There have been obviously reports to that effect, and there were indications that a couple of incidents along the Syrian border might have been perpetrated by Israeli actions, or in one particular incident at the camp called Amerli. These were Hashd al-Shaabi operations of the People’s Mobilization Forces.

Iraq is looking into those reports, trying to verify and ascertain exactly what happened; how did it happen. If those reports are true, definitely these are violations of our sovereignty. If there are—we do not want our territory to be used against any of our neighbors. We do not want others to get involved in our domestic situation. It is our sovereign responsibility as Iraq to really deal with any excesses that may happen within our territory. But this is destabilizing. This is dangerous. This is unacceptable.

O’SULLIVAN: Yes, please.

Q: Can you hear me?


Q: Good afternoon. My name is Tess Davis. I’m executive director of the Antiquities Coalition. And in this capacity I’ve had the privilege of working closely with the royal government of Cambodia, a country that has also survived war, genocide, and occupation, and today is looking forward to a bright future which has been built on the country’s rich history.

Iraq has perhaps the richest history and culture in the world, which is probably why Daesh also targeted it. And I would welcome your thoughts on what role you see Iraq’s cultural heritage playing in its postwar recovery and reconstruction.

SALIH: (Off mic.) It works?


SALIH: I will admit to the fact that, even though I was intellectually enamored with the idea of antiquities and—but somehow never touched me until I visited Nasiriyah about two years ago; actually, to visit with Adil, Adil Mahdi. My wife and I went there, and we went to the marshes—an amazing, amazing place. One of the most wonderful positive stories about Iraq is the restoration of the marshlands, and truly heaven. This is where the garden of Eden was, supposedly, and is unbelievable.

And then we went to Ur, where the Ziggurat is. And you can tell from that how profound history is in the land of Mesopotamia. And you literally walk across these ruins and you see these artifacts that are coming out of the ground. And I have recently seen also a map of antiquities, an atlas that UNESCO is doing together with, in fact, a group at the American university. And our minister of culture of Iraq is quite a famous archaeologist and quite focused on this.

Iraq is unbelievable in terms of human heritage and what it represents. Recently UNESCO designated Babylon as a world heritage site. And despite the politics, despite the Sunni-Shia-Kurd-Arab-Turkmen, whatever, all the variations that we have, almost, I would say, all Iraqis came together rooting for that designation; the same with the reconstruction of Nuri mosque and others in Mosul, in Irbil citadel.

So really that human heritage is something very valuable, amazing, but also of political consequence today, because it really brings people together. And hopefully—I mean, we’ve invited the pope. I had the honor of meeting the pope a few months back in the Vatican. We have extended an invitation for his holiness to visit, and we very much hope that he’ll be coming before long and to preach in Ur, where Abraham started, you know? It’s so significant. All the major divine religions emanating from that place, and you cannot but feel awed by the significance of that site and what it represents. And hopefully with a visit taking place it will be an opportunity to really emphasize the message of anti-religious bigotry and hatred, and really not in the name of God these conflicts should be pursued.

O’SULLIVAN: Thank you. Yes. The woman in the middle.

Q: Hello. My name is Kendra (sp), and I work in the House of Representatives.

And my question has to do with the youth in your nation. My question is, in understanding the demographics of over 70 percent of your population being under the age of thirty, and then hearing the number as it pertains to schools, what are the opportunities for young people? Where are those opportunities? And also, what is the perspective of youth about your rebuilding process?

SALIH: I think this is the biggest challenge that we are facing as a society, as government, and I cannot tell you that the prospects for the youth are good today. We need more job opportunities. We need to reform our education system. I just described to you that we need twelve thousand new school buildings. Iraq in the 1950s and ’60s used to be in the forefront of the education center across the Middle East. When you go to the Gulf, many of the leaders of the Gulf were educated at Baghdad University. And now, unfortunately, because of war, sanctions, you name it, mismanagement, our education system is quite behind. We need to do and invest a lot more into it, and make sure that it is up to standards and creating the opportunities for our young people to acquire the skills needed for today’s global economy. So the challenges are daunting, are really daunting.

But I’ll tell you something good, though. The youth are adamant about it. If you come to Baghdad there are some incubators, entrepreneurship centers. People are trying to make it, work through the system, push the envelope, and we as government have to do a lot more. And my hope is that, with the prime minister and other political leaders of the country, as we launch these infrastructure works and creating job opportunities, reforming our educational sector, these are the kind of things that matter.

Education really, really matters, and I give you my own take on it. I am passionate about education when I was in Kurdistan as—acting as regional prime minister there, but also in Baghdad this has been a passion.

Look, people are people. We have an American university in my hometown of Sulaymaniyah, of which Meghan has been involved, supportive, as well as Ambassador Hill was here just now and also has been very helpful to us in the past. You know, we’re taking kids from the same Iraqi schools, you know, which are not up to the standards that they should be in today’s world, yet through a good system they come in from that pool and as they graduate they are very different. Almost no one is without a job. They speak good English. Their skills of communication and so on are a lot better.

Obviously, we want this to be a catalyst for other universities and other institutions. Many are doing good and there are some good universities in Iraq that I feel very hopeful and promise—that is promising and hopeful about. But my point is people are people. What you need, to create the empowering environment through education, through job opportunities. And young people, I mean, this to me—today I’m talking about 70 percent of our population below the age of thirty—this is a huge social/political/economic, you name it, challenge for our society. But hopefully we can turn it around to the youth bulge in order to be contributors to our economies and our societies.


Q: President, this is Mark Hannah from the Eurasia Group Foundation. Really appreciate you sharing your time with us today, and congratulations on the many successes.

I wanted to address something that I’ve read a lot of experts write, which is that the rise of Sunni extremism in the region, and of ISIS specifically, if not was sort of ignited, was at least exacerbated by some of the policies of the Coalition Provisional Authority and Paul Bremer, especially the de-Baathification where a lot of people—civil servants, teachers—who had any connection to the Baath Party were purged of the government. First, do you agree with that critique? And, second, do you—what does that teach you about sort of inclusivity within your own government? Thank you.

SALIH: De-Baathification, obviously, was a law. Most of the Iraqi political system supported it. It was intended to touch or affect the top layers of the Baath Party, not to go beyond that.

I have to admit in certain ways and on many occasions this was badly applied. It was—become like—used as a political tool in order to punish opponents and so on, and it was not good. Now we have a legal review, and I think the impact of that has been diminished in many, many ways. The society has moved beyond that.

I don’t want to justify the excesses that have happened, but I just want to put things in context. Baath Party was responsible for a lot of the repression in Iraqi society. And you know, in situations of conflict, this can get out of hand. And, obviously, these were not good, and we have paid a dear price for it. But key is de-Baathification was meant to affect only the top layer of the Baath Party, not to become a tool to commit excesses against others.

What happened in Iraq was a radical change. It was overturning an entire system that has been for a while, and it took a long time for it to stabilize and come back into order. I think all the communities of Iraq understand, genuinely so, despite the differences, despite our narrative of history, today is what matters. And we basically—for example, I’m talking about Anbar. Shias and Kurds have a stake in making sure that Anbar is stable, have a stake in making sure that Mosul is stable, because if it is not stable this is the incubator that allows for the return of these bad actors who can make life difficult for everybody. So I think you will see a different sense, a different context.

And again, I want to put things in context. Perhaps other societies might have been an entirely different scale of violence. And we have violence in Iraq, but given what happened under Saddam Hussein somehow it was restrained, partly because of the American position there but more importantly because of Marjaiya and the Marjaiya Ayatollah Sistani’s role trying to calm down and restrain the violence. These were all important indicators at the time.

O’SULLIVAN: Thank you. OK, in the very last row in the back and I’ll work my way forward.

Q: Good afternoon. My name is Jolena (ph). I’m from the U.S. House of Representatives as a communications director. Thank you so much for your time today.

My question is, can you speak to the ultimate strategy to defeat ISIS resurgence from a digital media standpoint, seeing as how prolific they’ve been on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook and using them as a recruitment tool?

SALIH: Well, ma’am, I am sort of a gadget guy. I always do a lot on my iPhone.

O’SULLIVAN: This is true. I can—yes, that’s very true.

SALIH: You can attest to that.

I can tell you ISIS had a—quite a sophisticated digital operation, and I know Twitter and Facebook and others are now having quite a campaign to close down some of those accounts. But technology is an enabler of a lot of good, and I’m a believer in the power of technology. But please don’t underestimate the ability of the bad guys to use technology. And this is a huge challenge between the freedom of expression, freedom of the use of technology, and to what these bad guys can do in order to promote their message of hatred and create problems in any society.

And in the case of Iraq, we do have a real issue with that because we are really push on the stage of the digital world, and almost every Iraqi has a smartphone. Everybody’s active on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is becoming more and more. I can claim to have been the first Twitter registered in Iraq. Jack Dorsey came. Really. (Laughter.) That was in 2008. And now more and more, actually, I use the Twitter. But Facebook is definitely the main platform that Iraqis are using. And it’s quite active. But on many occasions, bad people, certainly ISIS and others, are utilizing it to their advantage. And this requires a lot of collaboration with developed democracies to making sure fighting ISIS, fighting terrorism, extremism, religious bigotry does not just—is not the military battle. It is also the battle for the soul and the minds of the heart, and digital domain is really important in that context.

O’SULLIVAN: Great. Yes.

SALIH: Raghida.


Q: Mr. President, thank you. I’m Raghida Dergham. I’m executive chairman of Beirut Institute.

And Mr. President it’s about Iran that I’m going to ask you, because Iran is accused of violating or use the Iraqi space, airspace, for launching attacks in the Gulf. How true are these accusations from your point of view? What would you do if there is such a violation? And then as far as the Hashd al-Shaabi, the popular mobilization forces which—who report back to Iran, I know that you have had a serious effort, you and the prime minister, in order to absorb these forces in the Iraqi army. And this effort has been stuck by the rejection by the Revolutionary Guards in Iraq. This is a dangerous situation not only for yourself, but also for the American troops in your country. Can you address all these things and tell us where are your efforts and what help do you need on that? Thank you.

SALIH: Well, Raghida, I think, to start with implicit in your question, that these attacks were not launched from Iraqi territory, might have gone through Iraqi airspace. So that is at least an improvement in terms of your accusation. (Laughter.) I think might have gone through Kuwaiti airspace as well, according to the reports. Went through Saudi airspace. So I mean, my point of view is this, we don’t know exactly what happened. The United States and others, and Saudis, are accusing Iran. The Iranians are denying it. This is—obviously what happened in Saudi Arabia is of deep concern to us. We consider this to be a dangerous escalation. And I’ve said this in my speech to the United Nations General Assembly. We don’t want—this is too risky. The security of the Gulf impacts everybody, including Iran, Saudi, definitely Iraq. And we do want to deescalate and bring the situation under control.

Talking about PMF, I want to remind this audience, a few years back when ISIS swept through Iraq it was about to sweep through Baghdad as well. Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa calling for arms, and many young Iraqis came to defend the country. And to be fair, had it not been for them we may have had much more difficulty. So one has to honor their sacrifice. One has to honor their contribution. The war against ISIS, the military phase of the war against ISIS, is over. Now the challenge is to really making sure that all these military entities that fought against ISIS are coming under one command and are controlled by the state. I’m not naïve to think that this can be done overnight. It has not been overnight anywhere in the world, not to mention Iraq with all its complications and difficulties. But definitely the decision is there.

Recently our prime minister issued a decree to put in these under the command of the state. By the way, I have to remind you that this is also regulated by law. There is a law that defines—that goes back to two years ago. This has nothing to do with this government, per se. It happened two, three years ago, the law of the Hashd al-Shaabi in parliament. And the fact that there are resistance, by the way, to the implementation of this decree from certain elements, a few elements, tells you that this is a serious decree. Iraqi polity, major political leaders, whom I convene at the presidential palace every now and then—quite often, actually, once a month, more or less—are adamant we need to support the government to implement this decision, because this is about the state.

If we don’t do this thing right, the notion of state rule in Iraq, rule of law, will be extremely problematic. We have the support of Marjaiya in Najaf, and above all also the population wants state authority to be dominant. State authority in Iraq, like many countries in the Middle East, could be on the margins here and there problematic. In the case of Iraq, you know, coming out of war and the difficulties that we have suffered from. I’m not claiming to you that we are absolutely in control of everything. We’re not. As many countries are not in that neighborhood either. But I can assure the decision is to do so, and we are intent on doing it. And we need all the understanding and the support in order to accomplish this, not because somebody wants to depict these groups as being this way or the other, but this is what Iraq needs. This is what Iraq’s future depends on.

O’SULLIVAN: Mr. President, we are at the witching hour. I want to thank you for joining us, and to let you know that I think we’ve heard your message loud and clear, that Iraq has a new opportunity, but the situation is still fragile. And you need the help and support of friends. And you can count on many people in this room, I can say for certain. We wish you much success and thank you again for joining us today.

SALIH: Thank you. (Applause.)

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In Geneva .. Iraq holds a meeting to prepare for the discussion of CEDAW global

Political | 09:49 - 22/10/2019



Baghdad - Mawazine News
, Tuesday, at the headquarters of the United Nations building in downtown Geneva, Switzerland, held an expanded preparatory meeting for the Iraqi delegation to discuss in detail the official report of Iraq for the 74th session of the Convention on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The Information Office of the Head of the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Assembly in a statement received (Mawazine News), that "the Iraqi delegation in Geneva today held an expanded preparatory meeting chaired by the Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations, His Excellency Ambassador Hussein al-Khatib and his deputy Dr. Abbas al-Fatlawi and in the presence of Ms. Deputy Rehan Hanna Ayoub of the Committee on Foreign Relations Parliamentary, has participated in the meeting Iraqi government figures from the ministries concerned, as well as the participation of the delegation of the Kurdistan Region, during which a detailed discussion of Iraq's official report of the 74th session of the Convention To eliminate all forms of discrimination against women, is scheduled to submit a report on Iraq tomorrow in an official capacity and international. "

Rehan stressed the importance of international and international efforts to combat violence against women, continue to demand their rights, expand freedom and consolidate a culture of equality between men and women in national constitutions, adding that "protecting women's rights and preventing all forms of discrimination are necessary for the stability of civilized societies." And reaffirming the United Nations Member States to intensify efforts to safeguard basic human rights and ensure adequate protection of members of society in all its spectrums and diversity. "
She explained that "her participation in this international forum came as a representation of the Iraqi Council of Representatives within the invitation extended to a number of legislative and executive figures, with the aim of dialogue and discussion to develop mechanisms of cooperation and coordination government agencies to provide full protection for women and enable them to perform their functions and humanitarian role in society."

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Date: 2019/10/28 16:53 • 46 times read
Saleh stresses the need to set a time limit for the completion of the draft electoral law
BAGHDAD: The President of the Republic Barham Salih, said on Monday, that the draft election law is a fundamental basis for political and economic reform in the country.
Saleh said during a meeting at the Peace Palace in Baghdad to discuss the draft electoral law, according to the statement of his media office, "must set a time limit for the completion of the project and within a short period because it is a real popular and political demand, and the need to coordinate with the United Nations in the technical side and to benefit from the expertise and experience in this He added that the country would be fine if we bring a law that represents and meets the aspirations of citizens.
The President stressed "the importance of the draft law to include a fair representation of the components, and give them importance to achieve their legitimate aspirations, indicating that the formation of the Independent Electoral Commission must be away from politicization."
During the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the United Nations, universities, trade unions and professional associations, as well as a number of specialists, "extensive discussions by the attendees to enrich the draft ideas to reach the final version, especially with regard to the electoral districts, and the formation of the Independent Electoral Commission and to achieve the aspirations of Iraqis Fair elections. " is over
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With all that’s recently taken place, what the hell do you do with bureaucrats that STILL just talk & talk & talk and talk, form endless committees, issue spineless proclamations and excuses, Delay & procrastinate and literally accomplish Bupkiss!!!!!!!  

Well, 2 or 3 things do suggest themselves. None that I am thinking off would have a pleasant outcome for the crooks.

..... and we continue to wait 🤬

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12 minutes ago, horsesoldier said:

With all that’s recently taken place, what the hell do you do with bureaucrats that STILL just talk & talk & talk and talk, form endless committees, issue spineless proclamations and excuses, Delay & procrastinate and literally accomplish Bupkiss!!!!!!!  

Well, 2 or 3 things do suggest themselves. None that I am thinking off would have a pleasant outcome for the crooks.

..... and we continue to wait 🤬

We think alike horsesoldier. 

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26 minutes ago, horsesoldier said:

With all that’s recently taken place, what the hell do you do with bureaucrats that STILL just talk & talk & talk and talk, form endless committees, issue spineless proclamations and excuses, Delay & procrastinate and literally accomplish Bupkiss!!!!!!!  

Well, 2 or 3 things do suggest themselves. None that I am thinking off would have a pleasant outcome for the crooks.

..... and we continue to wait 🤬


14 minutes ago, ChuckFinley said:

We think alike horsesoldier. 

I agree. 

The problem is the oversight they’re trying to implement is as corrupt as the persons they’re overseeing. 

I really feel we are no different after these protests. All it did was stop these guys from doing the little bit they were accomplishing. 

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1 hour ago, stanleypower said:


I agree. 

The problem is the oversight they’re trying to implement is as corrupt as the persons they’re overseeing. 

I really feel we are no different after these protests. All it did was stop these guys from doing the little bit they were accomplishing. 


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The IMF defines the "engine of demonstrations" in Iraq and the region


 2019/10/28 08:56:05


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Monday that unemployment, along with sluggish economic growth, is the driving force of demonstrations in many Arab countries, at a time when Iraq, Lebanon and other countries are protesting against corruption and economic deterioration.

In a report on economic performance in the region, the IMF said social tensions in Arab countries are one of several factors that have kept economic growth in the region weak.

Two weeks ago, the IMF expected growth in the Middle East and North Africa to be only 0.1 percent, from 1.2 percent in April, reflecting weakness in the economies of a crisis-hit region.

Jihad Azour, the fund's director for the Middle East and Central Asia, told AFP that "the levels of growth in the countries of the region are lower than it is needed to deal with unemployment."

"We are in an area where the youth unemployment rate exceeds 25 to 30 percent, and to address this needs to grow between 1 and 2 percent."

Lebanon has witnessed more than ten days of mass demonstrations condemning corruption and economic deterioration, and demanding political change and job opportunities.

In Iraq, thousands are taking part in demonstrations for the same reasons, as part of a protest movement that has killed and injured hundreds. Demonstrations are taking place in Sudan, Algeria, Egypt and other countries.

The region has witnessed massive protests in 2011 called the "Arab Spring" to demand political and economic reforms, but it collided with wars that broke out in Syria and Libya in particular.

Lebanon's economy is suffering from a sharp decline, a rising deficit and a trade imbalance.

Azour said that the government should "work quickly to rectify these imbalances and restore confidence (citizens) by reforming the financial situation and reducing spending."

The IMF also warned in a report on Monday that government debt rates have become very high in some countries in the region, exceeding the threshold of 85 percent of GDP as a general rate, and more than 150 percent in Lebanon and Iraq.

"The cost of debt is high, and it prevents the investments necessary for the region's long-term economic future," the IMF said.

A severe economic recession

This month, the IMF sharply lowered its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two largest economies in the Middle East, on the back of US sanctions, regional tensions and falling oil prices.

The IMF predicted Iran's economy to contract by 9.5 percent in 2019 after forecasting a 6 percent contraction in April, with Saudi Arabia growing by 0.2 percent against a previous forecast of 1.9 percent.

This is the worst expected performance of the Iranian economy since 1984, when the Republic was at war with Iraq.

It is also the worst growth forecast for the rich kingdom since the Saudi economy shrank by 0.7 percent in 2017.

The IMF said in its report on Monday that the Iranian economy has entered a phase of "severe economic recession."

The 3 percent drop between April and October suggests a significant deterioration in Iran's economy since the United States began tightening sanctions on Iran's oil sector in May.

Iran's economy contracted in 2018 by 4.8 percent.

Saudi Arabia, one of the world's top oil exporters, has cut government subsidies on fuel, imposed taxes on foreigners working on its territory, a 5 percent value-added tax and raised prices for soft drinks, energy drinks and tobacco.

At the end of September, Fitch announced a downgrade of Saudi Arabia's credit rating by one notch due to "geopolitical and military tensions in the Gulf region" after unprecedented attacks on two oil facilities in the kingdom.اقتصـاد/صندوق-النقد-يحدد-محرك-التظاهرات-في-العراق-ودول-المنطقة/

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The Commission on Human Rights meets with the representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to discuss the situation of the demonstrations

The Parliamentary Human Rights Committee headed by MP Arshad Al-Salhi and MP Dr. Wahda Al-Jumaili met with Ms. Jenin Blarakhst, Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in the presence of Ms. Daniel, Director of the Human Rights Office on Monday, 28 October 2019.


The meeting discussed the repercussions of the recent events that accompanied the demonstrations, the methods of violence committed against the demonstrators and the security forces, the spread of the phenomenon of sniping against the demonstrators and demanding the United Nations to take a greater role in helping Iraq.

For its part, the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee confirmed the occurrence of serious violations against peaceful and acceptable, and that Iraq will be embarrassed before the international community, because Iraq is part of the Human Rights Council.


Ms. Jenin Blaraakhst expressed her concern at the continuation and the extent of these demonstrations and expressed seriousness in supporting the Commission in the investigation of the recent violations in Iraq and that the United Nations Mission to monitor the human rights situation in Iraq closely.


   The Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights MP Arshad al-Salhi, the continued follow-up of the Commission continuously and continuously with the High Commission for Human Rights and civil organizations for the latest recent events, indicating that the security authorities did not show cooperation with the Commission.


Dr. Wahda Al-Jumaili, the committee's rapporteur, stressed that the inhumane dealings that led to many martyrs among peaceful demonstrators and the need to preserve lives and property.


At the end of the meeting, the Human Rights Committee stated that it would submit its report to the Council of Representatives, the government and the public regarding violations against peaceful demonstrators and that the Committee is keen to maintain civil and community peace by not attacking the security forces as well and the government to take the necessary measures to keep students and peaceful demonstrators from During the speedy completion of the reforms approved by the Iraqi Council of Representatives.



Information Service


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9 hours ago, stanleypower said:

The problem is the oversight they’re trying to implement is as corrupt as the persons they’re overseeing. 

Iraq hasn't fully implemented e-goverance and the data doing business Index  states that. IMO

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Date: 2019/11/12 14:08 • 45 times read
Iraq Opens 13th Conference of States Parties to Protocol V of the CCW
The Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Ambassador, Mahmoud Mahmoud al-Khatib, opened on Tuesday, the work of the 13th Conference of the States Parties to the Fifth Protocol to the Convention {CCW}.
"Khatib opened the conference as President of the 12th Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Protocol V to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects," a Foreign Ministry statement said. ".
"Al-Khatib handed over the presidency of the conference to the Permanent Representative of Finland;
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13 NOVEMBER 2019

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary‑General



Turning to Iraq.  Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative for Iraq, spoke to the Iraqi Council of Representatives, and she told parliamentarians that many Iraqis are asking for a brighter future for the country to reach its full potential and for the benefit of all Iraqi citizens.  She added that the Iraqi people have paid an unthinkable price to get their voices heard.  Since the start of the protests on the first of October, she said, at least 319 people have been killed and around 15,000 injured.  She reiterated the importance of guaranteeing fundamental rights — above all the right to life, but also the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.  Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert reminded the delegates that, with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has proposed a number of concrete steps as a way forward to confidence‑building and reform.  She emphasised that now is the time to act; otherwise any momentum will be lost at a time when many, many Iraqis are demanding concrete results.  Her full remarks are available.

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The United Nations: Iraq is the origin of civilizations and deserves all support

Baghdad / morning
The United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations Miguel Moratinos stressed the need to support the reconstruction of heritage and religious sites in Iraq, while UNESCO signed with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a memorandum of understanding to support education in Iraq.
"The Permanent Representative of Iraq in Geneva, Ambassador Hussein Al-Khatib, participated in the meeting of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, in which the High Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations briefed him on his activities and future plans of the Alliance of Civilizations," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Al-Khatib said, according to the statement, "Iraq's experience in managing the diversity of its cultural, ethnic, religious, peaceful coexistence, confronting extremist ideology and accepting the other within society and the role of positive religious leaders, especially the religious authority in Najaf."
For his part, Moratinos called for "support to Iraq to rebuild religious sites destroyed by ISIS terrorist gangs, usually Iraq as a reference and source of this issue, praising the diversity of civilizations and cultures of his people, and that Mesopotamia, the origin of civilizations and human."
He explained that "the coalition is working with UNESCO to help three countries in the reconstruction of heritage and religious sites destroyed by ISIS terrorist gangs," stressing that "Iraq deserves all support and assistance." 
Meanwhile, UNESCO and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs signed a memorandum of understanding to support education in Iraq.
Another statement said that `` Iraq's Ambassador to Doha Omar Barzanji, attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Italian government represented by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and UNESCO / Iraq Office under the auspices of Qatar Foundation - Education above all in the State of Qatar, on the sidelines of the WISE 2019 summit held in Qatar. ''
"The signing was attended by Executive Director of Education Above All Fahd Al-Sulaiti, Italian Ambassador Pasquale Salzano, and a number of members of the Italian government." The MoU aims to support education in Iraq in an effort to get children who have dropped out of school back to school. 
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Release date:: 2019/11/29 15:09 • 325 read times
Plasskart: I will brief the Security Council on Tuesday the status of Iraq
The representative of the United Nations Mission in Iraq, Jenin Blaskhart, said that she will inform the Security Council of the situation of the country soon.
"The increasing numbers of casualties and injuries have reached intolerable levels. The presence of engineers to derail peaceful protests is putting Iraq on a dangerous course," she said in a tweet on Twitter.
"I will brief the Security Council in New York on what is going on Tuesday (December 3)."
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4 hours ago, yota691 said:


Well I hope she doesn't recommend putting Iraq back in chapter 7 with all these sanctions because it would mean starting from all over from scratch. 

The corruption is so bad now it appears their not even paying any attention to Sistani any longer. Nothing will happen until they can remove the Iranians from the Iraqi government....

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Tuesday .. Blaskhart briefs the Security Council on Iraq

Baghdad / morning 
The representative of the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Jenin Blachart, revealed that she will brief the UN Security Council on the situation of the country next Tuesday.
"The increasing number of casualties and injuries has reached intolerable levels, and the presence of engineers to derail peaceful protests puts Iraq on a dangerous course," she said in a tweet on Twitter. 
"I will brief the Security Council in New York on what is going on Tuesday, December 3," she said.
"The news of the purchase of tents is part of the ongoing program to replace existing tents as they rupture after a few years," she said in a statement received by Al-Sabah. It has to do with the demonstrations; it is for the current IDP camps and there are 23,150 tents, not 8 million. ”
The social networking sites published earlier «buy the United Nations for nearly 8 million tents for Iraq».
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday expressed deep concern over the continued use of live ammunition against protesters, particularly in Dhi Qar province.
"We are deeply concerned by reports of continued use of live ammunition against demonstrators in Iraq, which has led to a high number of deaths and injuries, particularly in Dhi Qar province," a spokesman for Guterres said in a statement.
"The Secretary-General urges all actors to refrain from violence and engage in peaceful and meaningful dialogue for the benefit of Iraq and its people," he said.
 Violence ».
The Secretary-General also reminded the Iraqi authorities of their obligation to protect consular facilities and diplomatic personnel as well as public and private property.
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