22 September 2005
Recent Designation by Iraq's Transitional National Assembly of Draft Constitution Marks Important Benchmark, Security Council Told
Major Points of Contention Include Issues Related to Federalism, Formation of Regions, Role of Islam, Natural Resources
NEW YORK, 21 September (UN Headquarters) -- With the recent designation by Iraq's Transitional National Assembly of a draft national constitution marking an important benchmark in that country's political transition, Iraq could now move forward in the transition process, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, told the Security Council today.
Describing challenges in drafting the constitution, which would be put to a referendum on 15 October, he said underlying political issues were often the hardest to tackle, especially in countries undergoing a transition from dictatorship to representative government. In the case of Iraq, the Transitional National Assembly had also been given the task of drafting a constitution in an extremely challenging security environment. It was remarkable that the initial number of sensitive issues had been significantly reduced within a demanding time frame, rendered even tighter due to the delay in forming a Transitional Government. The non-participation of one major segment of Iraqi society in the 30 January elections had also affected the constitution's drafting, despite measures to include representatives of Arab Sunni groups in the process.
Among the major points of contention in the drafting process were the issues of federalism, modalities for the formation of regions in addition to the Kurdistan region, the role of Islam as a source of law, and the distribution of powers with respect to natural resources, including oil and water. Mr. Qazi noted that the constitutional referendum was only one of two major electoral events that were being prepared by Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission within a very tight time frame. Preparations were also under way for general elections, which were scheduled for 15 December. In that regard, international funding was urgently needed.
Outside the formal political process, the reality for the vast majority of Iraqis remained difficult, he added. Of paramount concern was the high toll of innocent civilian casualties caused by ongoing violence, including terrorist and insurgent activity, as well as the deteriorating human rights situation. He had encouraged the Iraqi Government to step up efforts to ensure that it was perceived as equitable and fair in its actions. At the current sensitive political juncture, that was particularly relevant for the Iraqi security forces, which were often required to operate in challenging circumstances.
With a tenfold increase of the United Nations presence in Iraq since operations had resumed last year, and the planned expansion of activities to Erbil and Basrah, he said the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was a committed partner of Iraq and was ready to provide its assistance, as circumstances permitted and as requested by the Iraqis.
Speaking on behalf of the Multinational Force (MNF), the United States representative said the most notable recent development had been the submission of Iraq's draft constitution for referendum. Congratulating the Iraqis on their steady and courageous progress in their political transition, she urged all of them to eschew violence and participate in the referendum and elections, which would set the course of Iraq's future. The insurgents remained "capable, adaptable and intent" on carrying out attacks against Iraqi civilians, officials and security forces with a goal of destabilizing and delegitimating the Government to pursue their own goals. While the frequency of attacks on Iraq's infrastructure had decreased since the election, they continued to have an adverse impact on the availability of electricity and on oil revenues.
Noting that the goal of the MNF was to assist Iraqis to provide for their own security, she said the capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was increasing, reducing the influence and effectiveness of insurgents and strengthening Iraq's rule of law capabilities. The Multinational Force, in close coordination with Iraq's Government and the Coalition, was providing assistance to strengthen Iraq's law enforcement, justice and corrections system. It was also working to complete critical infrastructure projects. Success would be achieved, however, when Iraqis themselves could guarantee their own liberty, security and prosperity.
Also addressing the Council, Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the draft constitution was the most progressive in the region, providing the framework for democracy to thrive. While there had been a short delay in presenting the draft constitution to the National Assembly, it was the first time in 80 years that a constitution had been so openly and publicly debated.
While the Government was committed to meeting the remaining deadlines, it needed greater international assistance to do so, he added. With Iraq heading into a critical phase over the next three months, he called upon UNAMI to fulfil its mandate fully in accordance with resolution 1546, broaden its physical outreach and provide more personnel support. The political transition was an Iraqi-led process, but the United Nations needed to take a more vocal and visible role there.
Acknowledging some difficulties in the process of human rights development, he said proactive measures were being taken to investigate any reported violations through independent inquiries and parliamentary committees. But as Iraq enshrined its human rights in a new constitution, its future could not be determined in ink. What happened on the ground would decide how far the country could translate its vision into a more promising reality.
Concluding, he said the gravest human rights violations in Iraq today were the senseless atrocities inflicted upon the country by terrorists. Efforts to rebuild and stabilize the country were being challenged at every step, and he expected the terrorists to step up their attempts to create civil tensions and prevent national unity ahead of the constitutional referendum. "The battle being fought in Iraq is not ours alone, but a fight to protect the freedoms of the rest of the civilized world", he said.
The meeting began at 3:15 p.m. and adjourned at 3:55 p.m.
Before the Council was the Secretary-General's report pursuant to paragraph 30 of resolution 1546 (2004) of 8 June 2004 (document S/2005/585), which requested him to report to the Council on the operations of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and on the fulfilment of the Mission's responsibilities. Covering the period since his last report of 7 June 2005 (document S/2005/373), the report provides a summary of key developments, particularly with regard to the political transition, including the constitution-making process and regional developments pertaining to Iraq.
The report notes that subsequent to the 30 January 2005 elections, the convening of the Transitional National Assembly on 16 March and the formation of the Transitional Government on 28 April marked a new phase in Iraq's political transition process. Iraq's evolving transition during the period under review was dominated by the writing of a permanent constitution and by preparations for the referendum on the constitution and for the elections for a permanent government. The delays in convening the Transitional National Assembly and forming the Transitional Government reduced the time available for completing the draft constitution by the 15 August deadline, as stipulated by the Administrative Law.
The report states that the constitutional process has engaged the Iraqi people in an unprecedented debate on key challenges facing the country, which generated significant political momentum despite the difficult circumstances in which the process has taken place. The delays in the formation of the transitional institutions and the Constitution Drafting Committee after the January elections, the protracted negotiations on the draft, diversions from previously agreed procedures, and the decision of some groups to withhold their support for the final text suggest that the process could have been made more inclusive, participatory, transparent and responsive to the aspirations of the Iraqi people.
The writing of a new constitution has created an historic opportunity to develop the institutions that will sustain democracy, promote the rule of law and improve living conditions and economic opportunities for all Iraqis, although some fundamental issues appear not to have been fully resolved, the report states. It is critical that all the different Iraqi communities and political entities work together on those questions with a view to forging a broad political consensus through a democratic process. The referendum and the elections, planned for October and December, respectively, will offer yet another opportunity to engage in the shaping of Iraqi institutions. The United Nations will continue its efforts to provide the necessary support for the referendum and national elections.
The constitution-making process also affirmed the need for an inclusive, participatory and transparent transition, to mitigate the volatile security environment, which has deteriorated in certain parts of the country, the report continues. The Secretary-General is gravely concerned about the increasing number of civilian casualties and serious injuries. Virtually no Iraqi has been left untouched by the prevailing level of violence. Continuing acts of terrorism, violent crime, including kidnappings and torture, and the adverse actions of security forces and paramilitary groups, represent a disconcerting source of human rights violations in the country. Civilians also suffer from a lack of protection of their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Deficiencies in the administration of the justice system, particularly with respect to the handling of circumstances and conditions of detention, pose a major challenge.
The Government of Iraq must ensure the appropriate and legitimate use of force by its security sector, and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all Iraqi citizens, the report states. Developing the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to enable them to assume full responsibility for safeguarding their country's security, commanding the trust of all Iraqi citizens, presents an ongoing crucial task; and the full reintegration of local militias and paramilitary forces into this new Iraqi security apparatus is necessary.
National reconciliation will remain the major challenge for the Iraqi people, the report continues. Those groups that have so far stayed away from the political process need to be assured that their concerns will be addressed through national dialogue. In turn, they will need to provide assurances that they are committed to stand up and be counted against the violent pursuit of political objectives, in particular, the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians, and to act in pursuit of the national interest of the Iraqi people as a whole. The success of Iraq's transition process will also be determined by the development of a human rights regime, including minority and gender rights, which conforms to international standards and is accompanied by the supporting institutions.
The international community has an important role to play in actively assisting the Government in meeting the expectations of the Iraqi people, the report says. Countries in the region and regional organizations bear a particular responsibility. Recent international meetings, including the Iraq International Conference held in Brussels, the meeting of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) held in Jordan, and ongoing regional initiatives provide hope of greater international convergence in support of Iraq's transition.
Despite continuing severe operational and security constraints, the United Nations has been able to increase its international presence in Iraq more than tenfold since UNAMI resumed operations in Iraq in August 2004, the report states. For the remainder of 2005, staffing levels will be kept under review. Staff security, both national and international, remains the overriding guiding principle for all UNAMI activities in the fulfilment of its mandate both inside and from outside Iraq. The United Nations welcomes the assistance that the Multinational Force (MNF) continues to provide in facilitating the United Nations presence in Iraq. The phased transfer of responsibilities from the Multinational Force to the new Iraqi security forces will create a new security environment which will have a significant impact on UNAMI operations.
Ultimately, it is incumbent upon the Iraqi political parties and groups to develop mutually beneficial approaches to resolving differences and responding to the demands of all constituencies, the report states. While pursuing their respective policy interests, communities must build bridges of hope and trust between one another with a view to strengthening their sense of nationhood and preserving the unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence for Iraq. Otherwise, rising sectarian tensions and violence hold the potential for escalation into serious civil strife
Briefing by Special Representative of Secretary-General
ASHRAF JEHANGIR QAZI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, said the meeting took place shortly after the designation by the Transitional National Assembly of Iraq of a draft national constitution, which marked an important benchmark in Iraq's political transition as outlined in Security Council resolution 1546. Iraq could now move forward to the remaining steps in its transition, namely, a national referendum on the draft constitution scheduled for 15 October and general elections scheduled for 15 December.
In writing a constitution, underlying political issues had often been the hardest to tackle, especially in countries undergoing a transition from dictatorship to representative government, he said. In such situations, it was almost a prerequisite that the constitution drafting process contributed to the development or restoration of political trust among the main political constituencies, without which the necessary compromises on sensitive issues would be difficult to achieve. In the case of Iraq, the Transitional National Assembly had also been given the task of drafting a constitution in a security environment that remained extremely challenging and which could easily contribute to a hardening of attitudes on all sides. In the circumstances, the restoration of mutual political trust among parties and communities through an inclusive, transparent and participatory political process had been, and remained, a challenge.
He said it was remarkable that the initial number of sensitive issues on which differences were known to exist had been significantly reduced within a very demanding time frame, rendered even tighter due to the delay in forming a Transitional Government. Even so, he could not but acknowledge that the major shortcoming of the 30 January elections -- the relative non-participation of one major segment of Iraqi society -- had inevitably affected the subsequent drafting of the constitution, despite measures taken to include representatives of Arab Sunni groups in the process.
The lack of sufficient mutual accommodation within the National Assembly's Constitutional Committee had eventually led to outstanding political issues being referred to meetings of senior political leaders. The process had developed a political dynamic of its own that had carried discussions on the draft text of the constitution beyond the prescribed deadline of 15 August. As a result, the process had had to depart from formal procedures to allow negotiations among all parties to continue as constructively as possible. Several deadlines for the designation of a text by the National Assembly had been set aside, and the text that had been designated on 28 August continued to be discussed and changed. Changes to the text had been read out to the National Assembly on 18 September.
The issues of federalism, modalities for the formation of regions in addition to the Kurdistan region, the identity of the State, the role of Islam as a source of law, and the distribution of powers with respect to natural resources, including oil and water, were among the major points of contention. Several commentators had noted the deferral of a large number of important institutional arrangements to the next elected national assembly for legislative action. Given the short time frame available, there had probably been no alternative to that. Building on the efforts made during the drafting process, he hoped that all parties would continue to work constructively with one another in implementing an approved constitution in the common interest of the Iraqi people.
He said a copy of the constitutional test put to the people of Iraq in the 15 October referendum had been formally communicated to him by the Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, with the request that UNAMI facilitate the publication and distribution of 5 million copies to Iraqi households throughout the country. The process, which would enable the Iraqi people to make an informed choice on whether to accept or reject the draft constitutional text, was now under way. In that regard, UNAMI was also providing technical support to a broad public education campaign on the draft constitution.
The referendum was only one of two major electoral events that were being prepared simultaneously by Iraq's Independent Electoral Commission within a very tight time frame, he continued. Preparations were also under way for the general election that was to follow. That process had also been affected by prolonged negotiations in the National Assembly over the choice of electoral system, which had delayed the adoption of a new electoral law until 12 September. As a result, the time lines for implementing all the preparatory steps for the referendum and elections had been severely compressed. In addition, there was an urgent need for international funding for the electoral process.
The United Nations did not and should not take positions on questions such as the merits of the draft constitution, which lay exclusively within the sovereign political domain of the Iraqi people, he added. It was important that all recognized that the facilitation of United Nations work, including the publication of the draft constitutional text, did not constitute advocacy. Although the time available for a nationwide public discussion on the completed text had been much less than initially hoped, a healthy turnout for the referendum would nevertheless be a very positive development. He hoped the Council would support the Secretary-General's call to the Iraqi people to exercise their democratic rights, as well as his call to the Iraqi authorities and all Iraqi political groups to ensure the Iraqi people's participation, free from intimidation or threats to their security.
Outside the formal political process, the reality for the vast majority of Iraqis remained difficult, he said. Of paramount concern was the high toll of innocent civilian casualties caused by the ongoing violence, including terrorist and insurgent activity. The Secretary-General had unequivocally condemned terrorist violence against innocent civilians which no cause could justify, and had repeatedly called on all parties to observe their international humanitarian obligations in that regard.
Also of great concern was the deteriorating human rights situation, he said. From past experience, the United Nations had learned that addressing both past and present abuses based on the rule of law and international norms could go a long way in promoting national reconciliation efforts. The Mission had, therefore, encouraged the Iraqi Government to step up its efforts to promote and protect human rights, as well as to ensure that it was perceived as being equitable and fair in its actions towards all communities. At the current sensitive political juncture, that was particularly relevant to the Iraqi security forces that were often required to operate in challenging and provocative circumstances. The forthcoming referendum and election would provide an opportunity for them to demonstrate their neutrality, impartiality and effectiveness in respecting the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens.
Similarly, the need for greater security was not limited to the security of life, but encompassed the general welfare of Iraqis and their prospects for a better life in terms of basic living conditions, employment and public services, he continued. Restoring the confidence and dignity of the Iraqi people required urgent tangible improvements in those areas. In that regard, the outcome of the last IRFFI Donor Meeting in June had made it possible for UNAMI to focus its efforts on selecting quick-impact projects aimed at improving the quality of life of Iraqis. The UNAMI had also facilitated the prompt provision of emergency assistance to the survivors and families of those who had lost their lives in the tragic Aemma Bridge stampede in Baghdad on 31 August. Strengthening the Government's capacity to coordinate international assistance would remain a priority for the Mission. However, meeting Iraq's immediate reconstruction and humanitarian needs and investing in its longer-term development would require continued and generous support from the international community.
While the referendum and the elections were necessary instruments in Iraq's transition to democracy, they were only staging posts along an evolving transition, he said. Irrespective of their outcome, there were a number of overarching challenges, including promoting national reconciliation through inclusive, participatory, transparent and responsive politics that impacted positively on security; respective Iraqi ownership of the political process and strengthening the security of the State; developing good governance practices and institutional capacity-building; and encouraging international and regional engagement and consensus in support of Iraq's transition.
The Council had a particularly important role to play in each of those areas, he said. As the current process outlined in resolution 1546 was nearing its scheduled completion, consideration would need to be given to how best the international community, including the United Nations, could continue to support the Government and people of Iraq.
With a tenfold increase of the United Nations presence in Iraq since operations had resumed last year and the planned expansion of activities beyond Baghdad to Erbil and Basra, UNAMI was a committed partner of Iraq and was ready to provide its assistance, as circumstances permitted and as requested by the Iraqis. "We have come a long way in Iraq", he said. The Mission could not have achieved what it had without the support it had received from a large number of countries. He was also grateful for the efforts of the Multinational Force and the Iraqi Security Forces in supporting the Mission's activities on a daily basis. He also paid tribute to UNAMI staff and thanked Iraq's Government and people for their support.
ANNE WOODS PATTERSON (United States), speaking on behalf of the MNF, said that the most notable recent development had been the submission of Iraq's draft constitution for referendum. Congratulating the Iraqis on their steady and courageous progress in their political transition, she urged all of them to eschew violence and participate in the referendum and elections, which would set the course of Iraq's future.
The insurgents remained capable, adaptable and intent on carrying out attacks against Iraqi civilians, officials and security forces with a goal of destabilizing and delegitimating the Government to pursue their own goals, she continued. The world had witnessed -- and the Council condemned -- the atrocious murders of members of the Transitional National Assembly, a member and an adviser of the constitutional drafting committee, officials, electoral workers and other Iraqis, as well as attacks on senior Algerian, Egyptian and Pakistani diplomats and Iraqi and multinational forces. The total number of terror incidents had been relatively steady in the post-election period, with attacks concentrated in four of the country's 18 provinces. The frequency of attacks on Iraq's infrastructure had decreased since the election, but they continued to have an adverse impact on the availability of electricity and on oil revenues.
The goal of the MNF was to assist Iraqis to provide for their own security, she said. The capacity of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) was increasing, reducing the influence and effectiveness of insurgents and strengthening Iraq's rule of law capabilities. In close coordination with the Government of Iraq, the Multinational Force and the coalition were providing assistance to strengthen law enforcement, justice and the country's corrections system. The Force was also working with Iraq's Government and security forces, international donors and non-governmental organizations to complete critical infrastructure projects, ranging from water purification facilities and electrical power stations to educational infrastructure, medical facilities and administrative buildings. In July and August alone, the MNF had completed approximately 100 reconstruction projects in the central-south sector of the country.
Turning to the ISF, she said that as of 19 September, there were a total of 193,200 trained and equipped personnel, including 104,200 police, highway patrol and other forces under the Ministry of Interior, as well as 89,000 of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Even as the Multinational Force helped build and train the ISF, Iraqi forces were employed in active combat operations. A key indicator of progress was the ISF's role in a recent counter-insurgency operation in Tall Afar, during which 11 Iraqi combat units had been employed as independent manoeuvre elements. The ISF, in partnership with the Multinational Force, increasingly conducted the full spectrum of counter-insurgency operations. Special border forces consisting of over 17,000 trained and equipped personnel had been arrayed into 36 battalions that manned 258 border forts around Iraq. To stem the flow of foreign fighters, priority had been placed on securing the border with Syria.
She added that the MNF had implemented, in partnership with the country's Ministry of Defence, a programme to embed at the battalion, brigade and division level military transition teams, which identified areas of progress and shortcomings, ultimately preparing individual units to assume independent control of their area of responsibility. While the MNF's work was far from complete, it had already been able to transfer some security responsibilities. For instance, on 31 August, the Iraqi Base Support Unit had assumed control of all perimeter force protection in a sector in Kirkuk; on 6 September, the MNF had handed over security responsibility in Najaf; and Iraqi Army units were now conducting independent security and offensive operations in Rawah. The Force and the Iraqi Government were developing a conditions-based security plan to define the environment necessary for further and greater transfers of responsibility from MNF to ISF.
Per Security Council resolution 1546, the MNF, notably the Georgians and Romanians, continued to "take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq ... so that, inter alia, the United Nations can fulfil its role in assisting the Iraqi people", she said. The United Nations had made important contributions in Iraq, especially in the constitutional process. It continued to have leading roles, particularly in supporting the Iraqis for the October referendum and December election and helping to coordinate reconstruction and donor assistance. She urged the United Nations to assume its role fully and to deploy the necessary experts rapidly. As the Organization expanded its activities in Iraq, its security needs increased. The Force attached priority to its efforts to ensure full security coverage for the United Nations and welcomed the contributions of the Republic of Korea and Mongolia in Erbil. She encouraged countries to consider providing monetary and/or troop assistance to that effort.
In conclusion, she said that success would be achieved when Iraqis themselves could guarantee their own liberty, security and prosperity. Training the ISF to take over primary responsibility for security was critical. Continued progress in national reconciliation would also assist ISF development and hasten the process of bringing security and stability. The international community, particularly Iraq's neighbours and especially Syria, must do more to stop foreign terrorists entering Iraq and help the efforts to stabilize and secure the country. The MNF and combined MNF-ISF efforts continued to provide a shield for democracy to take shape, evolve and take hold in Iraq.
HOSHYAR ZEBARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, said there had been a short delay in presenting the draft constitution to the National Assembly while all parties were trying to reach broader agreement on some of the key issues, but it was the first time in 80 years that a constitution had been so openly and publicly debated. While it was important to stick to the timetable set out in resolution 1546, in this case, too much was at stake to rush through an unfinished or unworkable charter.
"What we have produced does not satisfy all the demands of any group, but it is the best deal that could be delivered based on negotiation and consensus", he added. "We demonstrated commitment to compromise instead of exerting individual maximalist demands. That sends an important message: there will be no will of the majority without the consent of the minority."
The draft constitution was the most progressive in the region, he continued. It provided the framework for democracy to thrive, and he was very proud of the outcome, particularly in such a difficult security environment. The next step was to ratify the draft in a national referendum on 15 October. In order to build national consensus, the draft remained open for debate, and a vigorous public-awareness campaign was under way. The United Nations was printing 5 million copies to be distributed to Iraqi households.
If ratified, the referendum would be followed by nationwide general elections in December for a constitutionally elected government. The National Assembly had adopted a new electoral law based on a system, in which Iraq's 18 governorates would each elect their representative, thus creating a broader coalition government. Over 30 Assembly seats had been allocated for minority groups unable to meet the electoral quota. Encouragingly, voter registration had surged in all areas of the country, the latest figures indicating around 14 million people so far.
The Government was committed to meeting the remaining deadlines, but it needed greater international assistance to do so, he said. With Iraq heading into a critical phase over the next three months, he called upon UNAMI to fulfil its mandate fully in accordance with resolution 1546, broaden its physical outreach and provide more personnel support. While the political transition was an Iraqi-led process, he asked the United Nations to undertake a more vocal and visible role in Iraq. No international organization did a better job of organizing credible, honest elections in emerging democracies than the United Nations. He also urged the Member States to adhere to their obligations under resolution 1546 to provide protection and funding for United Nations facilities in Iraq, so that UNAMI could contribute more effectively towards democracy-building in his country.
Turning to social development and reconstruction efforts, he said that now was the time to accelerate the mechanisms to implement the international commitments made in Madrid and reinforced in Brussels and Amman. The level of disbursement from the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq had improved compared with 2004, but he looked with concern to the spending level managed by the World Bank. He also supported the Secretary-General's call upon donor countries to provide the $107 million required for Iraq's elections, in addition to the amount set aside by the Iraqi Government.
Among the country's urgent requirements, he listed the needs to improve basic services and the everyday standard of living; and accelerate capacity-building in the ministries based on good governance and public accountability. The country required a more concerted international effort, led by the United Nations, to speed up the distribution of donor funds and reduce system bottlenecks.
"We are rebuilding our nation on the principles of human rights and equality rather than on the mass graves and genocides of the past", he said. To succeed, the country needed to be self-appraising in its progress. After two and a half years of freedom from dictatorship, it was also important to recognize that human rights development took time. It required constant education and the establishment of practices and institutions to uphold and protect individual, minority and public rights.
Acknowledging that there were some difficulties in the process of human rights development in Iraq, he said that proactive measures were being taken to investigate any reported violations through independent inquiries and parliamentary committees. "But as we enshrine our human rights in a new constitution, we know our future cannot be determined in ink", he added. "What happens on the ground decides how far we can translate our vision into a more promising reality."
The gravest human rights violations in Iraq today were the senseless atrocities inflicted upon the country by terrorists, he continued. The efforts to rebuild and stabilize Iraq were being challenged at every step, and he expected the terrorists to step up their attempts to create civil tensions and prevent national unity ahead of the constitutional referendum.
"The battle being fought in Iraq is not ours alone, but a fight to protect the freedoms of the rest of the civilized world", he said. He appreciated the multinational forces that supported the country. Despite the bravery of Iraq's own fledgling forces, the country could not succeed alone. Iraq's forces were increasingly taking over the responsibilities of the Coalition, but they needed more training, better intelligence, better forces and better coordination. As long as conditions required, the country needed the help of the MNF.
Iraq asked its neighbours to root out elements of terror and join it in regional strategic cooperation, he said. Neighbouring countries had responsibilities towards Iraq, including through Security Council resolution 1618, but there were differences in the way they responded. He felt strongly that there was a lack of political will in Syria towards its commitments in Iraq.
Regrettably, the bulk of foreign fighters and terrorists were infiltrating from Syria, and that country's Government had not demonstrated any serious cooperation to help stop their transit.
"We need the help of every Member nation and this Organization to win this fight", he said. "We stick together, or we lose together. Now is the time when determination and perseverance are most needed. The more intense your engagement now, the sooner we will be able to stand on our own feet and defend a democratic, united, prosperous and free Iraq."
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