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UN’s Iraq envoy warns against danger of further conflicts in region

UN’s Iraq envoy warns against danger of further conflicts in region

SRSG Ashraf Qazi speaks to reporters
The senior United Nations envoy to Iraq today pledged the world body’s continued support for the war-torn country, especially through dialogue with its neighbours, while warning of the danger that would be posed by any additional conflicts in the already volatile region.

“The United Nations is determined to encourage the neighbouring States to develop a sustained and constructive dialogue to minimize the prospect of Iraq’s tragedy being exacerbated by the wider problems of the region,” Ashraf Qazi told the Security Council in an open meeting that saw the participation of over a dozen speakers.

“This needs to be encouraged by the wider international community,” he added. “All concerned should do their utmost to ensure that further conflict in the region is avoided lest this sets up a dynamic that spirals out of control.”

Mr. Qazi, who has been in talks with leaders across the region, said he had been “repeatedly struck” by calls from them and Iraqi officials for greater UN involvement. “The Government and people of Iraq deserve the best the UN can offer in terms of facilitating reconciliation, as well as refugee, human rights and humanitarian protection processes,” he said.

Reporting on recent developments, the envoy said the new security plan for Baghdad had produced mixed results; the number of violent incidents and unidentified tortured bodies had decreased, but “there is a widespread belief that the problems posed by militias are in temporary abeyance” while mass casualty attacks continue.

Mr. Qazi noted that re-establishing security requires political progress, and called for the Government “to accord the highest priority to bringing about genuine political reconciliation among the diverse peoples of Iraq without which no security, political or economic process will bring lasting stability to the country.”

Looking to the meeting scheduled for tomorrow in New York on the International Compact for Iraq (ICI), a five-year plan for the country’s advancement, Mr. Qazi voiced hope that participants would “agree on tangible steps that would result in the official launch of the initiative, thereby setting in motion a national, regional and international process to assist the Government of Iraq in fulfilling its obligations to its people.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking to reporters earlier today, also said the meeting should spur progress. “By holding this Compact tomorrow morning, we hope that this will give, first of all, a substantially and politically important message to the Iraqi people, so that they will be encouraged to do their own to bring peace and security to their country, and also to give a strong message that the international community is behind them to support their noble efforts,” he said.

Also addressing the Council today, Iraq’s Vice President, Adel Abd Al-Mahdi, said the Baghdad security plan was “based on respect for legality” and envisaged having Iraqi security forces to take over the security dossier by the end of this year.

“However we do not wish to be overly optimistic; at the same time, we believe that a number of positive results have already been achieved,” he said.