BARHAM SALIH, President of Iraq, said his country has worked to strengthen State capacity in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19, noting that it was among the first to join the COVAX Facility. Recalling that Iraq has suffered from war, embargoes, tyranny and genocidal campaigns, that it has known mass graves and experienced chemical weapons use, the draining of marshes and the grip of terrorism over 40 years, he said “we have liberated cities from the evil forces of ISIL/Da’esh [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Da’esh],” thanks to Iraq’s army and police, the Peshmerga, the international alliance, its neighbours and the role played by the religious authority Najaf al Ashraf in mobilizing people to face this existential threat.
“We cannot understate the danger posed by terrorism,” he stressed. If distracted by regional conflict, Iraq will see the return of these forces. “Cooperation and solidarity are our only choice in the fight against international terrorism,” he said, noting that the objective now is to rebuild liberated cities and ensure that those displaced can return home. He expressed hope for international support in this regard and underscored the importance of Iraq’s law on Yazidi survivors, who have suffered worst suppression at the hands of ISIL/Da’esh, explaining that it also covers women from other groups. He described the fight against corruption as “a genuine national battle”, advocating for limiting the sources of such behaviour and ensuring the restoration of funds that have been plundered or trafficked, a great portion of which are being used to perpetuate chaos in Iraq. The Government is drafting a law for the recovery of plundered assets, and he called for the formation of an international alliance to similarly meet that goal.
He went on to stress that the planet is facing an existential danger. “We may have different political views, but we must remain united on climate change,” he said, noting that Iraq is experiencing desertification and scarcity of water resources. A document of national contributions has been created to guide Iraq’s economic transformation and to promote the concept of a green economy, to attract new investment and ensure more participation of the private sector in addressing climate change. He called for resuscitating the valley between two rivers, previously known as the “black land” because of its dense vegetation, describing Iraq’s diversified marshes, palm trees and mountains of Kurdistan as reasons why Iraq could be “an environmental meeting point” for countries in the Middle East. This requires international support.
He said the absence of Iraq on the regional scene was among the reasons for the area’s destabilization, noting that the Government has adopted a balanced policy based on dialogue and underscoring the need for a regional organization based on cooperation and economic links that can respond to a variety of issues, from terrorism and extremism, to job creation for young people and climate change. Iraq organized the Bagdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership to underscore that his country, once a conflict area, is now a meeting point. Its crucial role will be re-established within the region, which will require regional and international support. He closed by calling the crisis in Syria unacceptable, with terrorist pockets that threaten Iraq and the region, as well as urging that a global and fair solution be found to the Palestinian question. In October, Iraq will hold early elections in response to national consensus on the need to bring about reforms and establish a new social and political pact that will ensure good governance. “Iraqis have an iron will to preserve the nation,” he insisted, adding that a new electoral law was adopted, a new electoral commission formed and a new electoral code of conduct issued.
Read the full statement, in PDF format.
Access the statements from previous sessions.